News Focus: I’ve Stopped Collecting Pension As Former Kwara Governor – Saraki.
Senate President Bukola Saraki has said that he has stopped collecting pension from the Kwara State government as a former governor.
He made this known on Tuesday, on the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Forum in Abuja, saying that he wrote a letter to the state government to stop the payment.
According to Saraki, the move was sequel to complaints from some quarters that former governors who are currently senators or ministers were receiving pension and salary in their new jobs, all from the government.
A civil society organisation, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), had accused the former governors of receiving double pay from government, and said it was illegal.
“No, I’m not collecting pension; the moment I saw that allegation, I wrote to my state to stop my pension. So, I speak for myself on that part; I’m not doing that, I am not receiving pension from my state,’’ he said.
On other senators involved on the issue, Saraki said “I think I will leave everybody to their individual decision.”
“Morally, if you have got another job, you should give it up until when you are truly a pensioner. Some of these oversights are not addressing the issues. What the states should do is to go and amend their laws to say that if you have another appointment then you are not entitled to that benefit. With this, we will just simplify the matter,” he said.
On the role of Bank of Infrastructure in the country, Saraki said that the Senate had not had any serious interface with the bank, but that it was involved in some projects.
“We are not engaging with them particularly. I think that they were part of those involved in the Lagos-Ibadan road. But, I don’t think government should really put funds into that. I have this strong view and I feel very strongly about it, that nowhere in the world has government funded infrastructure. Government cannot, and even if government can fund infrastructure projects, the social sector will suffer – health will suffer and education will suffer.”
He said there were a lot of complaints that budgetary allocation to health and education was too low, attributing it to the fact that much money was being invested in infrastructure development.
Saraki explained that due to the challenges, the National Assembly had passed Bills that would encourage private sector participation in infrastructure development.
“What should happen is that we should try and get private sector to take over some of these infrastructure so that the money can go into education and health. By doing that, banks like Bank of infrastructure will come in.
We are really pushing the idea of, particularly, the Lagos-Ibadan road, that appropriating that project from the budget does not show seriousness.
This is a road that is very viable; that is centre of the commercial activity and we should see how private sector can participate.
For example, even if you go by the budgetary allocation on that road, last year was N30 billion, this year, after back and forth, we took it back to N20 billion.
This was done so that if they don’t find private funding, we will take it up,’’ he said.