Ojikutu: Only Post-1999 Govs, Deputies Are Beneficiaries of Pension Package

2020-11-15
THIS DAY- Segun James

· Jakande, Otedola, their deputies were excluded
· Fashola denes being beneficiary of pension law

A former Deputy Governor in Lagos State, Alhaja Sinatu Ojikutu has disclosed that only former governors and deputies, who served from 1999, were beneficiaries of the Public Office Holder (Payment of Pension Law 2007).

However, the Minister of Works & Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola has denied being a beneficiary of the controversial pension package, disclosing that he did not accept the offer.

Ojikutu made the disclosure in a telephone conversation with THISDAY at the weekend, noting that the state’s first civilian governor, Alhaji Lateef Jakande, Sir Michael Otedola and their deputies were not beneficiaries of the controversial pension package.

Ojikutu was deputy governor to Sir Michael Otedola in the aborted Third Republic. Both were elected on the platform of the defunct National Republican Convention (NRC). Sir Otedola who died in 2014 was also denied the pension package.

During the conversation, Ojikutu noted that she spoke to the Fashola administration on the issue, but was specifically told that she and other legitimately elected governors and their deputies, including Alhaji Lateef Jakande, were not eligible for the pension.

Ojikutu, deputy governor to Otedola between January 1992 and November 1993, said: “Pa Lateef Jakande was not bothered. But both myself and Chief Rafiu Jafojo fought for our rights. We were not successful.

“Fashola told us that only governors and deputies from 1999 were eligible to benefit from the pension package when she inquired soon after the gazette on the pension was released.”

She, however, said a former deputy governor under Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Senator Kofoworola Bucknor- Akerele successfully had her name included in the pension scheme after a protracted legal battle.

Ojikutu said it was necessary to make this known so that the wrong impression created that all former elected governors and deputy governors in Lagos State were beneficiaries of the controversial pension package.

“They cut off Jakande and Otedola. Can you imagine that? All efforts by Jakande’s deputy, Chief Jafojo to be included failed until the old man died,” the former deputy governor said.

She lamented that her own case was worse because she had not been earning pension from anywhere even after years of public service.

She said although she worked for the Lagos state civil service for years, she was specifically told that despite this, she was not entitled to both gratuity and pension from the state government.

Ojikutu said: “I started working with the system in 1966, soon after secondary school, but because I moved from one service to the other, the years were never accumulated. So, I have not gotten anything from the system.”

She disclosed that following persistent pressure, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode later agreed to include them in the system, but that he could not finalise it before he was removed from office.

Also, in an interview with Channels TV at the weekend, Fashola said he waived his privilege to partake in the pension package.

He said: “I can say very clearly that I declined to benefit. When the matter came up, there is a record of minutes of government in the state executive council where I stated clearly that if this was a privilege conferred on me, then I have the right to refuse it.

“The cabinet should record my refusal to partake because I was conflicted morally about the position. For me really, the real privilege and honour was to serve and so I have gone back to my house in Surulere and I am not collecting any emolument.”

He however said about N350, 000 was credited to his salary account monthly (which has not been drawn), adding that he has directed his chief of staff to write to the government because he didn’t know what the money was meant for.

The state governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu had, during his budget presentation to the State House of Assembly Tuesday, announced a plan to repeal the pension law.

At the session, he said: “Mr. Speaker and Honourable Members of the House, in light of keeping the costs of governance low and to signal selflessness in public service, we will be sending a draft executive bill to the House imminently for the repeal of the Public Office Holder (Payment of Pension Law 2007), which provides for payment of pension and other entitlements to former Governors and their deputies.

“It is our firm belief that with dwindling revenues and the appurtenant inflationary growth rates, that we need to come up with innovative ways of keeping the costs of governance at a minimum while engendering a spirit of selflessness in public service,”

The repeal of Pension Law 2007 will stop payment of pension to former governors Asiwaju Bola Tinubu who was governor from 1999 to 2007, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (2007 to 2015), Mr Akinwunmi Ambode (2015 to 2019), and their deputies.

 

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