The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has given a pat on the back to the Executive Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu for his intention to repeal the Public Office Holder (Payment of Pension Law 2007), which provides for payment of pension and other entitlements to former Governors of the State and their Deputies.
In a release, issued by CACOL on behalf of its Chairman, Mr. Debo Adeniran and signed by its Director, Administration and Programmes, Mr. Tola Oresanwo, he stated, “It gladdens the heart to hear the news that the Governor of Lagos State has announced his intention to repeal the Public Office Holder (Payment of Pension Law 2007), which provides for payment of pension and other entitlements to former Governors and their Deputies”.
We would recollect that Governor Sanwo-Olu who made the announcement while presenting the 2021 budget to the Lagos State House of Assembly was quoted as saying “in light of keeping the costs of governance low and to signal selflessness in public service, we will be sending a draft executive bill to the House imminently for the repeal of the Public Office Holder (Payment of Pension Law 2007), which provides for payment of pension and other entitlements to former Governors and their Deputies”.
We have often posited that the continual implementation of the Public Office Holder (Payment of Pension Law 2007), and other such laws that gave legal backing to the payment of Pension to Ex Governors and their deputies in different states in the country was not only insensitive, but also callous and deficient in human sensibility. It is on record that some civil servants that had served their various states for over thirty years have been on the receiving end of inadequacies in the collection of their meagre Pension and Gratuities while Ex Governors and their deputies that served for maximum of eight years are smiling to the bank. It is annoying to note that some of these former Governors are still holding public offices and still collecting salaries from the Federal Government.
The CACOL Boss added, “The decision of the State Governor to repeal the Public Office Holder Law is a step in the right direction. The decision is in line with the directive of the Federal High Court, Lagos presided over by Justice Oluremi Oguntoyinbo directing the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, to review pension laws of various states sequel to a suit filed by SERAP. The National Industrial Court in January 2020, also declared as null and void, payment of pension and gratuity to former governors and their deputies”.
The beneficiaries already had everything they enjoyed in office paid for by tax payers during their 4 or 8 years in office. They are rich enough to take care of their needs. Many are retirees from other jobs where they enjoy pensions and other benefits. It’s unfair that those who claim to serve people turn themselves to exploiters of the same people who are suffering various degrees of deprivation sometimes based on their misrule. Sometimes, when they serve twice or deputies become governor, they want to enjoy the benefits in multiples. Meanwhile those who served for more than 30 years could not access their gratuity and pensions, years after serving. We therefore recommend that those who have benefited from the arrangement should return the recoverable ones like houses, cars, domestic staff, etc.
It is quite germane and remarkable that the government of Lagos State has heeded the voice of reasoning. The leadership of the State has demonstrated that there is an urgent need to step up the governance of the State which cannot be done without prudent fiscal responsibility.
We therefore commend the State Governor and his team for this bold step. With this singular act, the Governor has again etched his name with gold on the good side of history. We hope other states in the country would take a cue from this noble act of Governor Sanwo-Olu and repeal every anti-people, anti-development and anti-progress law in their various states.