REMARKS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, THE EXECUTIVE GOVERNOR OF ZAMFARA STATE, HON (DR) BELLO MOHAMMED (MATAWALLEN MARADUN), MADE ON THE OCCASION OF ASSENTING TO THE LAW REPEALING THE LAW ON PENSION AND OTHER ALLOWANCES FOR FORMER GOVERNORS, FORMER DEPUTY GOVERNORS, FORMER SPEAKERS AND FORMER DEPUTY SPEAKERS OF ZAMFARA STATE, ON 26TH NOVEMBER 2019, AT GOVERNMENT HOUSE, GUSAU
It is my pleasure to welcome you all to this event of signing of the law which repeals the law on pension and other allowances for former Governors, former Deputy Governors, former Speakers and former Deputy Speakers of Zamfara State 2019.
- You may recall the recent letters received from the immediate past Governor of the State, which have gone viral on the social media, requesting for payment of a whopping amount of N10,000,000 monthly as upkeep allowance in addition to a monthly pension equivalent to his monthly salary while in office.
- When I received the letter, it dawned on me that the law that provided for such unprecedented benefits did not take into account the social and economic realities of our State, most specifically the daunting task of maintenance of peace and building a more prosperous state that all citizens would be proud of.
- Since my assumption of office as the Governor of Zamfara State, the central focus of my administration is to combat the formidable security challenge inherited from the immediate past administration. When I took over the mantle of leadership as the Governor, the State was literally under siege by armed bandits and other miscreants. Gladly, today, the unprecedented security challenge has been largely contained through the policy of dialogue and reconciliation opted by my administration.
- As it is evident that the security challenge is partly accounted for by poor governance and lack of gainful opportunities for our teeming populace, we have also directed our energy towards rebuilding the state’s economy through efforts to lure Foreign Direct Investments into the critical sectors of our economy and teaching of valuable skills that will help our youths to be self-reliant.
- Even though payment of pensions and other entitlements to disengaged public servants is one of the missions of my administration, I cannot comprehend why a large portion of our meagre resources should be dedicated for payment to a select few while most of the retirees from the State and Local Government Service have not received a dime as gratuity for almost seven out of the eight years of the immediate past administration.
- It is on record that the backlog of pension and gratuity for Local Governments and primary school teachers left behind by the immediate past administration stands at N3,399,906,492.33, while that of State Government retirees stands at N3,691,256,543.09. Apart from a backlog of pension liabilities left behind by the administration, we have also inherited liabilities in respect of unpaid promotion benefits as well as annual salary increments for the State and Local Government Civil Servants. Moreover, what moral justification could be offered for such a jumbo package for a few when the social index has consistently indicated that the majority of our population lives in absolute poverty?
- It may interest you to know that the repealed law, among other things, provided that a former Governor is entitled to:
i. A monthly pension equivalent to the salary he was receiving while in office;
ii. The sum of N10,000,000 (ten million naira) monthly as an upkeep allowance;
iii. Two vehicles to be bought by the State Government and liable to be replaced every four years;
iv. Free medical treatment for former Governor and his immediate families and vacation within Nigeria and outside;
v. Thirty days vacation within Nigeria or outside Nigeria;
vi. A 5-bedroom house in any location of the choice of the former Governor within the country.
- The law also extended similar largess to the former Deputy Governors, former Speakers of the State Assembly, and former Deputy Speakers. It is estimated that it will cost the State the sum of N702,000,000 every year to settle the upkeep allowances for the beneficiaries of the repealed law alone.
- Taking into account the state of our economy and the formidable task of rebuilding Zamfara State ahead of us, and subject to the provision of Section 5(2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I filed for the repealing of the law before the State House of Assembly. Gladly, the law repealing the bogus allowances law is here before me for assent this afternoon.
- I would like to use this medium to appeal to all the concerned individuals for their understanding. As leaders, we should bear in our minds that we have a great task of building Zamfara State and leaving behind a lasting legacy for both the present and future generations. My administration is committed to settling all the benefits of political office holders as provided by Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission.
- My administration will continue to focus more considerable attention to matters of development of the State and the wellbeing of its people. You are all aware of our efforts in this direction so far. Notably, we are making a significant investment in our youth development, considering the fact that the future of the state depends on them. We have concluded plans to kick start a statewide skills acquisition programme through which our youths would learn valuable skills for livelihood.
- Our State has enormous potentials in agriculture and solid minerals, and we have a serious challenge in properly harnessing and transforming these sectors in tune with our developmental needs. That is why we are paying attention to partnering with foreign investors to fully leverage these potentials and make a Zamfara a pride of place.
- I would like to use this opportunity to thank our people for your incredible support, prayers and goodwill. I assure you that my administration will remain responsive to your needs.
- Thank you all, and God bless.
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