No fewer than 18 outgoing state governors will retire into lives of luxury with generous pension benefits despite mounting debts and unpaid workers’ salaries.
According to PUNCH investigations, the governors, who will hand over to their successors on May 29, 2023, would be leaving behind at least N3.06tn debt for the incoming administrations.
According to data from the Debt Management Office, the debt figure of these states included N2.27tn domestic loans and $1.71bn foreign borrowing.
The foreign debt is about N787.51bn, using the exchange rate of the Central Bank of Nigeria, which was N460.53 per dollar as of May 14, 2023).
The debt figure was as of December 2022, which was the latest figure by the DMO.
The outgoing governors include Nyesom Wike (Rivers State), Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta State), Udom Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom State), Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano State), Badaru Abubakar (Jigawa State), Bello Matawalle (Zamfara State), Ben Ayade (Cross River State), Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia State),and David Umahi (Ebonyi State).
Other outgoing governors who will benefit from the largesse despite huge debts and unpaid workers’ arrears are Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu State), Samuel Ortom (Benue State), Darius Ishaku (Taraba State), Abubakar Bello (Niger State), Abubakar Bagudu (Kebbi State), Nasir El-Rufai Kaduna State), Simon Lalong (Plateau State), Aminu Masari (Katsina State) and Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto State).
The outgoing governors will be completing two terms of eight years in office on May 28, 2023, (except Zamfara’s Matawalle, who lost his re-election attempt), and will be entitled to generous monetary pensions, mansions to be built in locations of their choice, luxury vehicles and domestic as well as security aides, among others, based on laws passed by their respective state houses of assembly.
The PUNCH observed that the 18 states account for 42.51 per cent of the N5.34tn total domestic debt and 38.34 per cent of the $4.46bn total foreign debt.
Also, top domestic debtors include Delta (N304.25bn), Rivers (N225.51bn) and Akwa Ibom (N219.27bn), while top external debtors include Kaduna ($573.74m), Cross River ($209.53m) and Enugu ($120.86m)
Despite N225.51bn domestic debt and $87.13m foreign debt, Wike and his deputy, Dr Ipalibo Banigo, will enjoy generous benefits after leaving office as provided in the Rivers State Pensions for Governor and Deputy Governor Law, 2012.
The law provides that three new vehicles should be purchased for former governors, and the vehicles are to be changed every four years. This is in addition to the payment of 100 per cent of their basic salaries, 300 per cent of their annual basic salary for furniture, free medical services and provision for entertainment. Their deputies also enjoy certain perks.
The pension law for former governors and their deputies was enacted by the administration of former governor Rotimi Amaechi and made other provisions such as two choice houses in any area of their choice in Rivers State and Abuja and three cars replaceable every three years for the governor.
The law also provides that 20 per cent, 10 per cent and 10 per cent of the annual salary of the incumbent governor should be earmarked for utility, accommodation maintenance and entertainment, respectively. Wike will be entitled to all these except if he decides otherwise.
However, Wike has been accused of owing teachers of staff schools of the state-owned tertiary institution for seven years.
Wike, who will be handing over to his party man, Sim Fubara, has been urged by a coalition of civil societies organisations in the state to offset the outstanding workers’ pay before the inauguration of the incoming administration.
In Delta, with N304.25bn domestic debt and $58.77m foreign debt, Okowa is entitled to a furnished duplex in Delta State or any other state in the country; medical treatment for him and members of his immediate family; two vehicles, including a utility vehicle, every two years; two armed policemen and one Department of State Security officer; 15 days’ annual vacation in any place of his choice and other benefits. The deputy governor is also entitled to similar perks.
The Delta State Governor and Deputy Governor Pension Rights and Other Benefits Law, 2005, was signed into law by former governor James Ibori, who ruled the state between 1999 and 2007.
The law was later amended in 2009 as the Delta State Governor and Deputy Governor Pension Rights and Other Benefits (Amendment) Law, 2009.
The law makes provision for ex-governors to be paid allowances and other benefits pegged at N50m yearly.