IN recent weeks, newspapers were awash with the news that some former State Governors, now ministers or legislators continue illegally and immorally to draw their salaries and other perquisites from the treasuries of the States which they (mis)governed for either four or eight years before becoming ministers or going to the National Assembly, where they take home humungous and unholy sums of money on a weekly, monthly or annual basis.
If this report is true, then such ministers or legislators are committing a crime that trenches on illegality, immorality and nonfeasance for which they should be arraigned before a court of law and, if convicted, appropriately sanctioned and banned from any political office forever. And this should be without prejudice to whatever legislative artifices, like pension schemes, gratuities or annuities, which the States, at the instance of those Governors before they left office, may have concocted to “honour” such governors, now ministers or legislators.
Each of those Governors, now minister or legislator, subscribed the Oath of Office as Governor, swearing that he would, “to the best of my ability preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; that I will abide by the Code of Conduct contained in the Fifth Schedule to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria…”
Sub-paragraph (c) of paragraph 32 of Part I of the Third Schedule to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) graphically empowers only the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) “to determine the remuneration appropriate for political holders, including the President, Vice-President, Governor, Deputy Governors, Ministers, Commissioners, Special Advisers, legislators and the holders of offices mentioned in sections 84 and 124 of this Constitution…”
ALSO SEE: APC scribe condemns CCT trial of Saraki
It would be recalled, for good measure, that a Governor, in his Oath of Office, swears to abide by the Code of Conduct contained in the Fifth Schedule to the Constitution. Sub-paragraphs (a) and (b) of paragraph 2 of Part I of the Fifth Schedule to the 1999 Constitution provides that “…a public officer shall not
(a) receive or be paid the emoluments of any public office at the same time as he receives or is paid the emoluments of any other public office; or
(b) except where he is not employed on full time basis, engage or participate in the management or running of any private business…”
In the light of the above constitutional provisions, the packaging of any form of remuneration, emolument, pension scheme, superannuation or whatever official or terminal benefits couched in a wily nomenclature put in place by any State House of Assembly for an outgoing Governor, is manifestly unconstitutional and, therefore, illegal.
At a time when over twenty-eight of the thirty-six States of the Federation cannot pay the salaries of their workers, it is a heinous offence deserving of a condign punishment, for a former State Governor, now minister or legislator, to continue to draw his emoluments (or even more) from the State which paid his salaries and other rosy perks of office for four, eight years as Governor of that State. An ex-Governor, now minister or legislator, who continues to receive or be paid his gubernatorial salaries or emolument alongside his pay as minister or legislator, is not only a thief but also a brazen rogue and an unblushing violator of the Constitution which he swore, both as a Governor, a legislator or a minister, to uphold and is, therefore, undeserving of any public or even private office.
We appeal to the Federal and State Governments to ferret out such ex-Governors, now ministers or legislators, who may be receiving their salaries and fringe benefits as such ministers of legislators, alongside their emoluments (or even fractions thereof) while they were Governors of their States, and prosecute them after turning them adrift. That would accord with the ongoing war against corruption.