A former governor of Ogun State, Olusegun Osoba, says he has never benefited from the outrageous pension packages for former governors and their deputies across states in Nigeria.
Mr. Osoba, who is also a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), also disclosed that the only amount he receives monthly from the government of Ogun State since he left office in 2003 is N676,000.
Speaking to journalists at his residence in Ikoyi, Lagos, at the weekend, Mr. Osoba said his monthly package is consistent with the provisions of the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC).
During the administration of former governor Gbenga Daniel, Mr. Osoba disclosed that the state government did not pay his entitlement until some highly placed traditional rulers and other prominent people in the state intervened.
He said the N676,000 pension does not even cover the cost of fuelling his car in a month.
“The tax that I pay to Ogun State yearly is in millions when you look at the balance sheet. I am putting more into the coffer of Ogun State than what I am taking from the state,” he said.
“I will only speak for myself. I cannot comment on others unless I have facts and figures indicating what they are collecting with what they are collecting in their various appointive or elective offices now. If I am holding any appointive office, I will rather collect all my entitlements because the N676,000 I am collecting from Ogun State cannot sustain me.”
Mr. Osoba argued that the RMAFC made provisions for changing cars of former governors and their deputies every three years.
“If the issue of car is covered under the law, it is their right and entitlement. Let us be honest with ourselves, in the 1999 Constitution, former presidents and governors are not by law allowed to hold any office with any multinational company or conglomerates.”
The former governor, therefore, noted that he was not against the regular change of vehicles for ex-governors, because, former governors are endangered because they must have stepped on a lot of toes with the decisions they took while in office.
Mr. Osoba, however, condemned ostentatious lifestyles of former governors and deputies, saying the government can change a car as recommended by the RMAFC, but not a fleet of cars.
He said, “That is too much (fleet of cars). Changing a car once in a while is not too much, though I have never benefited from this provision.”
He explained that the only time the Ogun State government changed his car was when he turned 70 almost nine years ago, noting that the state government has not given him the privilege in the last 15 years.
He said, “I do not mind because the way any governor lays his bed today is the way he will sleep on it tomorrow. If they leave office and ask for what they do not give to me, I will raise the alarm and fault them.
“Like my medical treatment. I know how much I have spent, but nobody asked me. A lot of prominent Nigerians have asked me to demand it. But I refused to make such demand. I do not want anything scandalous.
“For example, I had major health challenges last year, which led to my travelling to the United Kingdom for medical treatment. Between May and December, I was in and out of different hospitals.
“But I am happy that I had successful surgeries. I do not use recommended glasses anymore, which has been part of me for over 70 years. I paid £20,000 deposit in one of the hospitals and by January 1 this year, I paid the £10,000 balance for the treatment.
“The total cost of my treatment was nearly £100,000, but I refused to put the burden on the neck of Ogun State. As a former governor my health is part of their problem and if I die today, the state will bury me.
“But I just did not bother myself. Since the state government did not ask me about the medical procedure, when they knew what I went through, I did not bother them with the details. What I cannot afford in my private life I would not go for it in any public office I find myself.”
The issue of outrageous pension packages has been a source of outrage for many Nigerians, as Houses of Assembly across the nation often enact different pensions laws, which award outrageous life pensions for the ex-governors in their states.
In July 2017, the Lagos State House of Assembly said it would amend the law awarding outrageous pension packages to its former governors.
Mudasiru Obasa, speaker of the House said, “The intendment of this bill is to save taxpayers money while addressing the cost implication of some parts of the law.
In many states, the law allows former governors and deputies to have a house each in Lagos and Abuja, with several vehicles each.
Lagos assembly said with the amendment, both governor and the deputy will be limited to a house in Lagos where they served as well as have three and two vehicles respectively.
Key beneficiaries of the law are the state’s most recent governors, Ahmed Tinubu, now a leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress, and Babatunde Fashola, currently Nigeria’s power, housing and works minister.
The controversial law, available in other states, was first put in place by the Tinubu administration.