States in the country where former governors, deputies and other government appointees are put on life pensions are doing so at the detriment of poor masses in such state, the Executive Director of African Center for Leadership, Strategy and Development, Dr. Otive Igbuzor has said.
Dr. Igbuzor stated this at a two-day multi-stakeholders strategic retreat, held in Uyo, Akwa Ibom state.
With the theme, ‘Fiscal Transparency of Anural Payment of Salaries and Pensions for Elected and Public Servants and how to make State government solvent’, he stressed that placing former elected officials’ emolument on the state meager resources was a clear demonstration of ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul’.
His words: “As you may be aware, Public interest cannot be said to be well served when government officials such as former governors, deputy governors and government appointees supplement their emoluments in their current positions with life pensions and emoluments drawn from their state’s meager resources, thus prioritizing their personal interest over and above the general happiness of majority.
‘‘Public office is a public trust; therefore, citizens depend upon their governors, senators and ministers to act in the public interest, not for their own interest. Twenty one serving senators are presently receiving salaries from their states as former governors and deputy governor [as pension] and at the same time collecting salaries and allowances as members of the National Assembly. The scenario also applies to some former governors and appointees of government who are now serving in different capacities in the country.”
Represented by a Director of the centre, Mr. Ernest Kemakolam, he accused such states in the country of using their position to unduly influence the level of benefit they received, thereby placing personal interest over public trust.
“Funds that naturally should be channeled into infrastructural development are now used to service the personal interest of political leaders and appointees of government. The level of infrastructural deficit we see in the country could have been reversed if these money is channeled into the real sectors to drive growth and development such as education, health infrastructure and agriculture”, he added.
In his remarks, the acting chairman, Fiscal Responsibility Commission, Victor Muruako, who was represented by Charles Abana, Head Legal investigative enforcement, called on states in the country to buy into the regime of rule-based fiscal policies by making law through state Assembly or by adopting the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2007.
He lamented that of the 36 states in the country; only 12 states have operational/functional fiscal responsibility Agencies. “While many states are yet to enact the fiscal Responsibility Laws, others have passed the Law, but it is yet to be assented to by the state governors, while some are battling with establishing and/or properly equipping the Agency or Commission to function as statutorily mandated”, he said.