In this interview with BBC Hausa Service morning programme, the former governor of Jigawa State, Sule Lamido, accused his successor of withholding his benefits. He urged serving governors to respect existing laws as they would also join the league of former governors.
The interview was translated into English by Abubakar Maishanu.
Q: As former governor what is your monthly pension?
Sule Lamido: I receive N667,000 monthly, though for over a year the payment has been stopped for alleged fraud and the account frozen.
Q: You were accused of stealing public funds while serving as governor. Is that the reason why they froze your account?
Sule Lamido: I don’t know. Maybe they froze the account due to the ongoing trial. But the truth is that the amount, N667,000, is below what Balarabe Musa, a former governor of Kaduna State of 30 years ago is receiving. His pension is above mine. What I am saying is that let us do the right thing based on constitutional recommendation.
Q: In some states, former governors are collecting N10 million while others collect N30 million. This is in addition to the provision of houses in their states and in Abuja. These governors formulated the law, did you also do that?
Sule Lamido: There is a national committee that was saddled with the responsibility to determine the payment of workers and judges. When I was a governor, they came, we sat with them, they were guided on how to design the law. The law was implemented, I signed it, but I can’t recall the amount. I know that the beneficiaries were former governors, their deputies, speakers of the state House of Assembly and their deputies as well. This is already in existence without considering the beneficiaries. I know that the law says that I am entitled to house and vehicles foreign medical trip but none of these benefits is forthcoming, apart from the N667.000 in the already frozen account. Also, former governor Saminu Turaki and Ali Sa’adu are not benefiting.
Q: Did you request for the benefits being that it is your right and it is already a law?
Sule Lamido: The current governor, Muhammad Badaru, if he sees us as opposition, he will also join the league of former governors. These are things that are already in place that you have not followed. Now, if you are talking about poverty, then you need to amend like what happened in Zamfara because N10 million is too much.
Question: The one you signed is not up to N10 million?
Sule Lamido: The salary of serving governors, is that N10 million?
Question: Zamfara approved N10 million for ex-governors, did you approve N667,000 as your pension?
Sule Lamido: There was no increase from that N667,000. It depends on the economic well-being of a state. States like Rivers, Akwa-Ibom and Lagos, and maybe Zamfara is among these rich states.
Question: Some people accused you former governors as being selfish, that you are so flamboyant and that was why you approved huge amounts of money as pension to the detriment of the larger underserved citizens.
Sule Lamido: If there is poverty in the land, it is good to look beside and see the situation of your neighbour. But the crux of the matter is that it’s a law that was implemented in the state. Just like in Jigawa State, I’m entitled to house, vehicles and foreign medical checkup. But if you see that the law can no longer stand, I accept that. But former presidents too are also beneficiaries, including all the service chiefs, customs, prisons and immigration controllers. All these officials have their packages backed by law, including the (Chief Justice of Nigeria) CJN and Supreme Court Judges. But politicians are always blackmailed.
Question: But these are civil servants who rose through the cadres for 35 years in service. But governors served only eight years and they enjoyed a lot of privileges, including their children.
Sule Lamido: These officials also benefited from all the privileges accorded to former governors. The moral behind these privileges is to motivate officials to serve the country right.
Question: But despite all these privileges, the officials are being accused of corruption.
Sule Lamido: If this is the case, let them nullify the law to all categories of the aforementioned officials. When EFCC was established, Obasanjo was accused of using the commission to witch hunt the opposition. Then I urged people to see the purpose for which the agency was created. If the EFCC was established to protect members of the PDP, one day he (Obasanjo) would leave office. Let’s make laws to protect the country, not to witch hunt someone because the person you witch hunt may end up being in power.
Support PREMIUM TIMES' journalism of integrity and credibility
Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.
For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.
By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
TEXT AD: To advertise here . Call Willie +2347088095401...