The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, has condemned plans by the Edo State government to provide N300 million worth of mansion for the immediate past governor of the state, Adams Oshiomhole, and his former deputy, Pius Odubu, as parts of their retirement benefits.
The Edo State House of Assembly, Wednesday, amended the 2007 Pension Rights of the Governor and Deputy Governor Law, and included new clauses which provide that past governors and deputy governors of the state were entitled to N200 million and N100 million worth of mansion respectively, after their retirement from office.
The bill is said to have also provided that the buildings for the former governors and their deputy could be sited in any location of their choice.
The amendment also provided, among other things, that former governors and their deputy would receive pensions for life from the state government at a rate equivalent to 100 per cent of their last annual salary. Each is entitled to a special assistant who will earn the salary equivalent to a grade level 12 officer in the state civil service, and a personal secretary, as well as cooks, security aides and drivers.
They are also entitled to free medical treatments, alongside their immediate families, and cars that should be replaced every five years.
The amendment, which is already raising dust within and outside the state, is believed to have been done specifically to favour Mr. Oshiomhole and Mr. Odubu.
Adetokunbo Mumuni, the Executive Director of SERAP, said the action of the Edo State House of Assembly was “immoral, unfair, unconstitutional, (and) unreasonable,” because, according to him, the state government was unable to pay its pensioners and the salaries of its workers.
“(It’s) a rip-off on a massive scale,” Mr. Mumuni said on Thursday in a press statement.
SERAP called on Mr. Oshiomhole’s successor, Godwin Obaseki, to reject the amendment.
“This so-called proposed legislation means that millions of Edo pensioners and workers will have to fund the massive and unjust pensions for former governor Oshiomhole and his deputy and others that will come after them.
“Many of the retirees whose pensions have not been paid have been evicted from their apartments due to their inability to pay their rents.
“According to SERAP’s information, one of such retirees is Ihama Friday who at 60 is now squatting with friends. Another pensioner Osa-Aighobarueghia who retired as a head teacher continues to live a life of debts because the Edo State government has refused to pay her 30 months’ pension benefits.
“SERAP is aware that the Edo State government is not the only state passing such obnoxious pension laws to provide outrageous retirement benefits to former governors and deputy governors and that many of them are already in the National Assembly receiving multiple benefits and putting their personal bank accounts ahead of the common good.
“SERAP is finalising a comprehensive legal strategy to challenge these unjust laws and to name and shame those who continue to benefit from such laws,” Mr. Mumuni said.