It Is Morally Wrong For Public Officials To Earn Both Pension And Salaries
BEVERLY HILLS, April 13, (THEWILL) – Without prejudice to the ongoing trial of Senate President Bukola Saraki at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, the alleged payment of pension or salaries into his account, years after he had left office as governor, has brought to the fore another way in which the nation's resources are pillaged.
Indications have shown that retired public officials, both civilian and military, have continued to milk the nation dry, as they earn both pension and salaries as well as allowances in the present dispensation, despite an extant law that any retired public servant receiving pension must not take up a full-time government position.
President Muhammadu Buhari, a retired General and former Head of State, may also be culpable, as he is entitled to pensions in these capacities, just as he is entitled to his salary as president.
At the Senate alone, there are 21 former governors, believed to be deeply enjoying this insensitivity to the nation's scarce resources at this time. It is mind boggling that this unwholesome practice, which smacks of gross insensitivity, cuts across all the 36 states of the federation. THEWILL believes that if the Buhari government is serious about generating revenue to meet its electoral promises, doing away with this dual remuneration is one direction it must look.
We recall the ignoble role of the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission, RMAFC, which had approved a 300 percent severance package for political office holders upon leaving office. At the states level, state houses of assembly also approved mouth-watering entitlements for ex-governors and their deputies.
Unfortunately, the Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB, is yet to come up with a policy statement on this ridiculous largesse bequeathed on this class of mostly incompetent leaders.
THEWILL strongly condemns this gross mismanagement of the nation's resources. The financial implications of this recklessness on the nation's development plan are deeply rooted. We see this as not only unpatriotic but retrogressive. The penchant of the nation’s public office holders to get the institutions to accord them maximum comfort even after leaving office makes nonsense of their designation as ‘public servants’. For how can a person who is out to serve the public be so greedy and selfish in cornering funds that should actually be used to provide services and amenities of public interest?
Government should therefore urgently plug these loopholes and implement the relevant laws that this regrettable practice offends. It is really unfortunate that the nation will depend on beneficiaries of this perversion to see to the implementation of the laws guarding against it. Yet, nobody is supposed to be above the law.
A cursory look of pension packages in nearly all 36 states speaks volumes. For instance, the Lagos Pension Law, as approved in 2007, shows that former governors get two houses, one in Lagos and Abuja at the cost of N500m and N700 million respectively.
This is in addition to six brand new cars replaceable every three years, furniture allowance of 300 percent of annual salary, payable every two years, including about N30 million annual pension, among other benefits.
Also in Rivers State, the pension law provides for 100 percent of annual basic salaries for ex-governors and their deputies. The package includes a multi-million naira residential building, and three new cars, which are replaceable in every four years. The greedy picture varies from state to state, with all amounting to monumental waste of the nation's funds.
Unfortunately, this cadre of retired officials, see nothing wrong in collecting pension and salaries at the same time. Both Senator Adamu Aliero, and Sam Egwu, two former governors, have seen nothing wrong in it, saying '”It is consistent with the pension law and there is absolutely nothing wrong.”
Even if we assume that the likes of Aliero and Egwu are right from the legal perspectives, it is morally wrong to have this practice in place, in a country where the large army of unemployed people is growing at geometrical progression, with many citizens being unable to feed once a day.
THEWILL aligns with the recent public opinion, which condemned this practice. It would be recalled that Senior Advocate of Nigeria Mike Ozekhome, had said receiving double income is “morally and ethically reprehensible.”
According to him, “You are either pensioned, or you are working. You cannot be both a pensioner, and an active worker simultaneously.”
THEWILL thus calls on the affected public servants to, in good faith, drop one of the incomes they are receiving at their constituents' expense. We equally urge the Federal Government to urgently sponsor an executive Bill to strengthen the existing law to better guard against this.
Public officers must stop thinking they are doing the country a favour by being in office, and as such are entitled to incomprehensible perks. Their being addressed as public servants should always be a reminder on the need for them to act as such so that the commonwealth can truly be common.