Eniola Akinkuotu, Abuja
The Lagos State Government has refused to disclose how much it has spent on houses, vehicles and allowances of its former governors and ex-deputy governor
The PUNCH had in December 2018 written a letter to the Secretary to the State Government, Mr Tunji Bello, requesting to know how much of taxpayers’ money had been spent on former governors and former deputy governors based on the Public Office Holder (Payment of Pension) Law No 11 official Gazette of Lagos State, 2007.
Specifically, The PUNCH asked for the amount that had been spent on purchasing houses and vehicles for all former governors and deputy governors and other allowances paid to them from 2007 to December 2018.
Repeated calls to the Commissioner for Information, Mr Kehinde Bamigbetan, proved futile as he asked our correspondent to give him more time.
Subsequent phone calls and text messages were not acknowledged by the commissioner.
The Public Office Holder (Payment of Pension) Law No 11 official Gazette of Lagos State, 2007 states that former governors of the state are entitled to a house each in any location of their choice in Lagos and Abuja.
Section 2 states, “One residential house each for the governor and the deputy governor at any location of their choice in Lagos State and one residential house in the Federal Capital Territory for the governor on two consecutive terms.”
The state government has built houses for former governors of the state in Lagos and Abuja in line with the law.
A house was bought for Asiwaju Bola Tinubu in Ikoyi and the Asokoro area of Abuja.
Houses have also been built for former Governor Babatunde Fashola, who is now the Minister of Power, Works and Housing.
Others who are benefitting from the law are former deputy governors Femi Pedro, Abiodun Ogunleye, Sarah Sosan, and Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire.
Governor Akinwunmi Ambode and his deputy, Oluranti Adebule, are expected to be added to the list of beneficiaries once their tenure expires next month.
A former governor is also entitled to six new cars every three years, 100 per cent of the basic salary of the serving governor (N7.7m per annum), as well as free health care for himself and members of his family.
The law also says former governors will be entitled to furniture allowance, which is 300 per cent of their annual basic salary (N23.3m); house maintenance allowance, which is 10 per cent of basic salary (N778,296); utility allowance, which is 20 per cent of the salary (N1.5m) and car maintenance allowance, which is 30 per cent of the annual basic salary (N2.3m).
Other benefits include entertainment allowance, which is 10 per cent of the basic salary (N778,296) and a personal assistant, who will earn 25 per cent of the governor’s annual basic salary (N1.9m).
The law adds that a former governor is entitled to domestic workers comprising a cook, a steward, a gardener and others whose appointments are pensionable.
A former governor will also be entitled to eight policemen and two officials of the Department of State Services for life, according to the Lagos law.
However, the law does not state how much can be spent on building houses, procuring vehicles and health issues.
The information was what necessitated the FOI request.
The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria had, in its 2018 Accountability Index scored, Lagos 29 per cent on government transparency.
ICAN ranked Kaduna, Abia, Anambra, Kebbi, Ekiti and Jigawa states higher than Lagos State.
The state government has repeatedly ignored FOI requests, insisting that the Act only applies to Federal Government agencies despite a judgment by a Court of Appeal last year that the FOI Act is applicable to all states in Nigeria.