The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent an open letter to the Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, urging him to reject life pensions and brand-new vehicles for lawmakers’ bill passed by the Kano State House of Assembly.
In the letter signed by SERAP deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said the bill represents law-making in the interest and personal satisfaction of the lawmakers, which flagrantly offends the principles of legal justice and the rule of law.
“The lawmakers ought to subordinate their own interests to the welfare of the people of Kano. By passing the life pensions and medical trips abroad bill, the lawmakers have invariably ‘bought at their own sales’, and violated their sacred trust.
“This bare desire by the lawmakers of the Kano State House of Assembly to pass a bill to award to themselves life pensions, foreign medical trips and brand-new vehicles every four years is oppressive and violates the obligation of impartiality to the people of Kano they are elected to serve and the ideals of fiduciary government. The bill, proposed by Baffa Baba Dangundi, is a textbook case of diversion of public resources to private purposes.
“Rather than passing bills to divert public resources for personal benefits, the lawmakers should pass legislation that will urgently address the chronic problem of over 3 million out-of-school children in Kano (the highest in Nigeria) and ensure immediate payment of outstanding pensions and workers’ salaries, given that your government has already received N21.7 billion from the Paris Club debt refund, and also reportedly received in 2018 N84.2billion from the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC).”
“Government is a trust for the benefit of the governed, and members of the Kano State House of Assembly ought to be guardians of justice, general good and public interests. There is indeed a duty on the lawmakers to subordinate their own interests to those they are supposed to serve. But rather than acting as the ‘servants of the people’, the lawmakers have acted in a self-serving way and pushing to enrich themselves at the expense of the people of Kano.
“All public officials including lawmakers must act consistently with the purposes of the governmental trust: the good of the people and the security of their persons, liberty, and property. The purpose of any government–whether federal or state—is to promote the interest of the entire society, in this case, the people of Kano, and not the interests and welfare of a few in the House of Assembly. The lawmakers should pursue the happiness and prosperity of the Kano people with fidelity.
“If assented to, the bill would lead to a misuse of trust property and threaten to affect the welfare of the people of Kano by diverting public funds from development and provision of access to quality education, clean water and healthcare to the personal benefits of members of the House of Assembly,” the letter read.
The proposed law gives the presiding officers the privilege to earn life benefits following the expiration of their tenure. In addition, the officers would enjoy medical trips once in 12 months and choice vehicles every four years.
According to the bill, ‘There shall be paid pension to person(s) who held office as speaker and deputy speaker equal to the emoluments of a serving speaker and deputy speaker. The speaker and deputy speaker shall, on completion of their terms, be entitled to a grant of pension for life by the state.
The bill also provides that “there shall be provided for the speaker and the deputy speaker a brand-new vehicle to be bought by the state government every four years. There shall be provided for the speaker and the deputy speaker medical expenses either home or abroad depending on the nature of the illness”.