Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has called on President Bola Tinubu to take immediate action to cease the further collection of life pensions and other allowances by former governors who now serve as ministers within his administration. The organization has also urged President Tinubu to direct these ex-governors to promptly reimburse any pensions and allowances they have received since leaving their gubernatorial positions, back to the public treasury.
Among the former governors presently in the Tinubu administration who are affected by this appeal are: Badaru Abubakar, Nyesom Wike, Bello Matawalle, Adegboyega Oyetola, David Umahi, Simon Lalong, Atiku Bagudu, and Ibrahim Geidam.
In an official letter dated August 19, 2023, and signed by SERAP’s Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization emphasized that the appointment of former governors who continue to receive life pensions while simultaneously serving as ministers violates the Nigerian Constitution of 1999, as amended, as well as the country’s international legal commitments.
The letter to President Tinubu stated: “Given the prevailing dire economic circumstances in the country, preventing former governors from collecting life pensions in their ministerial capacity is an act in the public interest. The appointment of ministers who are recipients of life pensions may cast a shadow over the integrity and ethics of the ministers, and cast doubts on the appropriateness of presidential appointments.”
The organization underscored that the success of President Tinubu’s government would, in part, be determined by the conduct, integrity, and honesty of the ministers he appoints. While urging him to take action within seven days, SERAP warned that if there is no response, the organization would explore legal avenues to ensure compliance in the interest of the public.
SERAP’s request to halt the collection of double emoluments by former governors, who are currently ministers, aligns with the responsible exercise of President Tinubu’s constitutional authority in making ministerial appointments. This step would redirect national resources to the welfare of vulnerable citizens and enhance public confidence in the integrity of the government. The letter further highlighted that several states providing life pensions for former governors are among the poorest in Nigeria, where many workers’ salaries are unpaid.
In the spirit of promoting the rule of law and fairness, SERAP urged President Tinubu to address this issue promptly, emphasizing that life pensions for former governors serving as ministers are incompatible with Nigeria’s constitutional principles and obligations under the UN Convention against Corruption.