Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, is a former governor of Akwa Ibom State. As a governor, he had the resources of the state at his beck and call. This is not to talk about security votes, which most governors appropriate and use as it suits them. Today, Akpabio is out of office as governor but he is in a higher office. As Senate President, he collects humongous salary and sundry allowances. He also collects constituency projects and superintends over the sharing of some largesse to the members of the National Assembly. The recent disbursement of ‘prayer-cum-holiday token’ to senators as well as the delivery of brand new sport utility vehicles (SUVs) to our federal lawmakers is still fresh in the memories of Nigerians.

Despite all these, Akpabio is among the ex-governors who are entitled to life pensions in Nigeria. It sounds ridiculous, but that is Nigeria for you. Most people contest for power not to serve but to milk the resources of the country and further impoverish the masses. While the principal officials of this government are swimming in money, costly mansions and expensive SUVs, the majority of Nigerians are dying in penury. Most families can hardly afford a good meal a day. But our former governors, some of whom are ministers and senators, relish collecting double pay in the name of life pension.

It was then Governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu, now President, who signed the life pension law in Lagos in 2007. In the original law, Tinubu and other former governors were entitled to 100 per cent of the basic annual salary of the incumbent governor per annum. They were also entitled to a house each in Abuja and Lagos (for those who had completed two terms in office.) Some other goodies included six brand new cars every three years, car maintenance allowance, furniture allowance and other sundry allowances.

In 2020, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu hinted that the state would repeal the law because of dwindling revenue and to cut cost of governance. It was not until August 2021 that the state House of Assembly slashed the pension benefits by 50 per cent.

Please, note that it was not Lagos that first attempted to repeal the law. The first state to abrogate it in 2019 was Zamfara State. Imo State followed suit in 2020. Governor Hope Uzodimma, to the surprise of many critics, quickly signed the law repealing it when it came to his table. He described the law as a bad omen. Though Kwara State repealed the law in 2021, the state House of Assembly had passed a bill in 2018 suspending payment of pensions to ex-governors and their deputies still in public service. 

Late last month, Abia State joined the noble states that have repealed this law. In signing the bill into law, Governor Alex Otti said he “strongly believes that any leader who believes that leadership is a business has lost his way.”

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo expressed the feelings of many Nigerians when he described the pensions law as daylight robbery. He advised other governors to emulate Otti.

I wonder what the about 18 states that have not abrogated that law are still waiting for. The states are Ebonyi, Edo, Bayelsa, Bauchi, Ekiti, Akwa Ibom, Delta, Rivers, Borno, Kano, Katsina, Osun, Oyo, Ondo, Ogun, Gombe, Kogi, Niger and Yobe. Many of these states are neck-deep in debt and owe arrears of salaries and pensions. They should emulate Zamfara, Abia, Imo and Kwara in abrogating this pension law.

A civil society organization, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), deserves commendation for being in the forefront of the fight to abolish this law in all the states. On November 16, 2019, SERAP obtained a judgment from Justice Oluremi Oguntoyinbo of the Federal High Court in Lagos asking the federal government to stop pensions to ex-governors and recover pensions already collected by them. Former President Muhammadu Buhari refused to abide by this ruling. Last week, SERAP wrote President Tinubu asking him to obey the court judement by stopping the life pensions.

Come to think of it, why will someone who served his state for just eight years collect humongous pensions while civil servants who put in up to 35 years in service are largely denied their pensions? In Abia State, which just repealed the law, pensioners were reportedly owed pensions since 2014, but some former governors who put them in that state of affairs continued to enjoy unmerited pensions. These ex-governors and their deputies were entitled to 100 per cent of the annual basic salaries of the incumbent governor and deputy. Like the Lagos pension law, they were also entitled to houses in Abia and Abuja. There were many other allowances and entitlements. This is despite the fact that some of these ex-governors are either serving ministers or senators and receive salaries in such capacities.    

This is being insensitive to the plight of ordinary Nigerians. Hunger and poverty have delt with millions of Nigerians. The incumbent government worsened the situation with the sudden removal of fuel subsidy. This led to galloping inflation and the skyrocketing prices of essential foods items.

The tragedy of our existence as a people is that Nigerians have mastered the art of suffering and smiling. We watch skits making fun of our existential problems and laugh. And it ends there. In a country where the rule of law prevails and people are alive to their responsibilities, there would have been serious protests against the undue grabbing of our common resources by the ruling class. A high court had ruled that the federal government should stop the life pensions and recover whatever had been collected but that judgment was ignored and nothing has happened. To the best of my knowledge, there was no appeal against the judgment. And we pretend to be practising a democracy! Until the government heeds the calls by Nigerians for restructuring of the country, we will continue to go round and round our problems without any visible solution.


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Happy Easter!


Re: Shameful condition of Nigerian universities


There is no need belabouring yourself on how to adequately fund the federal institutions of higher education. Until the right thing is done which is to go back to the realistic principles of federal system of government as practised in the First Republic, the education along with other sectors of governance will continue to deteriorate beyond redemption. Nigerian political leaders especially the cabal in the north have stridently kicked against restoration of the principles of federal system of government through the restructuring of the lopsided Federation.

They deliberately foisted the Unitary-Federal contraption backed up with the 1999 Constitution deceptively described as “as amended” to give it a semblance of federal constitution which is in line with the preferences and venality of the Fulani Feudal Oligarchy that believe that they alone can dictate how the country would be structured and governed. Take for instance the pervasive and intractable insecurity throughout the country which stemmed from the centralized security architecture contrary to what is obtained in the heterogeneous society the world over.

Political Science has underlining principles and consequently if any of them is violated, there will be disastrous developments. In the first republic security was run by the Regional Governments and things were moving forward in addition to what was described as “Competitive Federalism” when the respective Regional Governments under the ethnic nationalities were developing at their own pace. In Federations the world over, the Central government does not run secondary schools and university cum polytechnic.  Education should be for the Federating Units which has to tailor the needs of their peoples’ values and world view.

It is plain inanity to fashion education policy and programmes to suit Northeast geopolitical zone and Southeast Geopolitical zone. It is an optical illusion to expect that the federal government can adequately fund the federal institutions of higher learning. If the country is Restructured, the Federating Units which should be the six Geopolitical zones should take over the federal government institutions of learning within their jurisdiction.

The revenue allocation should be reviewed so that the Federating Units will have over 70 percent to make them design the security architecture that suit their environment and tackle the dilapidated infrastructures within their jurisdiction. The federal government will therefore run only foreign affairs, defence and immigration. The incessant ASUU, SSANU, NASU strikes cannot stop until the country is restructured for true fiscal federalism. As said earlier, Federal governments the world over run not more than three ministries. There is no need deceiving ourselves that the federal government has the capacity to fund tertiary education. It is absolutely impossible. The level of infrastructure dilapidation in the universities according to your investigation citing University of Nigeria, Nsukka is mind-blowing and exasperating.

Restructuring the lopsided Federation has become a categorical imperative, it does not matter the vaulting and vaunting ambition of the Fulani Feudal Oligarchy to foist their ultra conservative values on the country.

– Polycarp Onwubiko, Awka, Anambra state, [email protected]

Dear Casy, why waste precious newspaper space and time writing about the unpalatable state of Nigerian universities when everything, beginning from the entire education sector, from which our university education is a subsector, to the economy, to security, name it, has gone shambolic? Do we talk of our political leaders, especially at the top level of our political firmament, whose only mission is the annihilation of the hoi polloi through starvation-driven policies that swell their bank accounts and those of their cronies? Please Casy, when choosing your write-ups, do take time to make rightful choices that rattle the Establishment towards taking steps that seek to change the narrative for better, especially, the downtrodden.

– Steve Okoye, Awka, 08036630731

Casmir, when strike is deployed during conflicts in labour issues, it is because consultation and consolidation procedures failed. Government (past & present) always create the impression that the only language they understand is ‘strike’! This is most unfortunate and most undesirable as this tends to cripple the academic community. Most often they pay lip service to education and end up frustrating all that are involved namely: parents, students, ASUU, NASU, SSANU etc. No responsible govt allows its academic institutions to be under lock & key. Why the selective justice of treating ASUU differently? What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. Aluta continua, victoria ascerta. Solidarity forever.

-Mike, Mushin, 0816 111 4572

Casmir, over the years, the government of different administrations have failed to demonstrate the importance of universities in the manpower development of this Nation. This is always noticed through the frequency of strikes in the citadel of education. To stop this ugly trend, time has come for government to quit in its entirety its involvement in universities administration. Individual universities are doing well and devoid of endless strikes. Government should grant these universities unhindered autonomy which will make them engage in various activities to generate funds in line with the discipline. These universities can partner with financial institutions to provide enough funds for different ventures in the universities. A case in point is Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences producing drugs for commercial purposes. Engineering faculty can also involve in different engineering works to generate funds. Government should create an active student interest-free loan scheme to help students who may have financial burdens to contend with.

-Pharm. Okwuchukwu Njike, +234 803 885 4922