Hope Uzodinma, the governor of Imo State, has signed into a law a Bill forbidding the payment of pension allowances and gratuities to former governors, deputy governors, assembly speakers and deputy speakers of the state.
What he’s saying: That the pensions and privileges to the ex-public officers could bankrupt the state in the near future given the age of those presently drawing the pay from the state coffers, and the prospect of more people joining their rank.
He said: “The same governors and speakers also received severance allowances, amounting to several millions of naira, when they disengaged from office. How then can the same category of former public office holders turn around to receive pensions?”
Why it matters: Hope Uzodinma makes a good point on how ex-public officers have become a burden on government finances.
- Elected public officers in the country enjoy some of the highest-paid allowances and bonuses globally without commensurate productivity or impact.
- Whilst in office, they design laws that guarantee a luxurious retirement at the expense of the public given that the opportunity cost of financing their medical trips abroad is equipping hospitals at home.
- Besides the apparent financial burden and soaring recurrent expenditure that leaves the government with little to fund capital projects, insulating public officers from the reality of their domain is an incentive to be reckless and imprudent.
Flashback: Zamfara state government abolished similar payment last year following the leak of a letter from the former state governor, AbdulAziz Yari, protesting non-payment of his monthly upkeep of N10m. Zamfara is one of the poorest states in Nigeria with a poverty headcount rate of over 70%, per NBS data.
Bottom line: This is the second shrewd decision from the Imo State government within a week. Two days ago, it signaled its readiness for investment in the telecom sector with a reduction in the price of its Right of Way charge to conform to the FG-recommended 145 naira per meter charge. But then, a sour tale from the state this week was the suspension of a journalist in a government-owned radio station who complained about the non-payment of salaries for three months in the middle of the covid-19 crisis.