By Jonathan Ugbal
The pension for former Governors, their Deputies, Speakers, and Deputy Speakers in Cross River will cost the State at least 1.7 billion Naira annually for at least the next four years.
The incumbent, Senator Ben Ayade signed into law a new package for the above listed on February 15, 2023, documents obtained by CrossRiverWatch show.
The Law number 2 of 2023 or, as per its long title; “A Law to repeal the Cross River State Gubernatorial Pension Law, No. 2, 2005 and its subsequent amendments of Law No. 4, 2015 and Law No. 7, 2018 and to enact the Cross River State Special Allowances for some Public Office Holders Law and for other matters connected thereto,” provides different packages for the four offices listed earlier.
The schedule lists 10 items including transport, rent, utility, entertainment, medical, and security. Others are vehicle maintenance, journal, meal subsidy, and house maintenance.
The law provides that while former Governors are entitled to Seven domestic staff on Grade Level 06, former Deputy Governors, Speakers, and Deputy Speakers of the State House of Assembly are entitled to Four domestic staff each, also at Grade Level 06.
The Basic Calculations…
Owing to the fact that allowances are usually calculated using basic salaries and not total take home, CrossRiverWatch relied on the last published Salary scale by the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission Remuneration Package for Political, Public, and Judicial Office Holders (February 2007 – June 2009).
The basic salary of a Governor is NGN 185,308.75. That of a Deputy Governor is NGN 176,017.91. While the Speaker of the Assembly has NGN136,656.25 as basic, the Deputy gets NGN120,498.54 as basic.
This figure will see former Governors earn over NGN 200 million annually while their former Deputies get over NGN 100 million. Speakers will pocket NGN 65.5 million annually while Deputy Speakers will take home NGN 37.5 million per year.
CrossRiverWatch also limited the calculations to only former civilian Governors and Deputies who are still alive. As for the Speakers and Deputies, only those from 1999 were factored into the equation.
Medical and security allowances are pegged at 985 percent. This means NGN1,825,291.1875 for each of the items.
Rent, entertainment, vehicle maintenance, journal, meal subsidy, and house maintenance are allocated 980% for a total of NGN1,816,025.75 for each item.
Transport and utility allowances are 950% of the basic which will get NGN1,760,432.125 per item.
This totals NGN 18,067,603.125 per month or NGN216,811,237.5 per annum for each Governor.
Clement Ebri, Donald Duke, Liyel Imoke, and Benedict Ayade together, will cost the State NGN 867,244,950 every year and will increase if it continues until another Governor exits office.
Utility, medical, and security are allocated 600% which translates to NGN1,056,107.46 for each of the items.
They will get 550% of the basic for transportation and vehicle maintenance which is NGN 968,098.505 for each while house maintenance is pegged at 520% which is NGN915,293.131.
Rent is 500% at NGN880,089.55 as well as entertainment, journal, and meal subsidy which are allocated 400% each at NGN704,071.64.
This will mean a former Deputy Governor takes home NGN 9,012,116.92 per month or NGN108,145,403.04 per annum.
By May 29, only Efiok Cobham and Ivara Esu will be the Deputies alive which means they will cost the State NGN216,290,806.08 every year until another is added.
House maintenance, vehicle maintenance, security, medical, and rent are allocated 500% of the basis for a total of NGN 683,281.25 per item.
Transport and entertainment get 400% at NGN546,625 each while meal subsidy is 300% at NGN409,968.75. Also, utility and journal are allocated 200% at NGN273,312.5.
A former Speaker will take home NGN5,466,250 per month and NGN 65,595,000 per annum.
There have been six Speakers of the Assembly since 1999 who meet the requirements in Section 4 of the law. That means at the proclamation of the 10th Assembly, they will cost taxpayers NGN393,570,000 per year.
They will get the least as house maintenance, vehicle maintenance, security, medical, rent, and transportation are allocated 300% which translates to NGN361,495.62 per item.
Meanwhile, utility, entertainment, journal, and meal subsidy get 200% which translates to NGN 240,997.08 each.
The monthly take home is NGN3,132,962.04 while yearly is NGN37,595,544.48.
Upon the proclamation of the 10th Assembly, all six former Speakers who meet the requirement in Section 4 of the law will cost the State NGN225,573,266.88 per annum.
This means the State will spend NGN1,702,679,022.96 annually on special allowances for 18 individuals.
In April 2005, the then Governor, Mr. Donald Duke, assented to the Cross River State Gubernatorial Pension Law, to provide a pension to any person who has held office as a Governor or Deputy Governor in Cross River State. The State commenced payment of the pensions from the consolidated revenue fund of Cross River State.
10 years later, in 2015, the Assembly amended the law to include former Speakers and Deputy Speakers. After refusing to sign initially, Governor Liyel Imoke later assented to the “law to provide a pension to any person who has held office as a Governor, Deputy Governor, Speaker or Deputy Speaker in Cross River State and for matters connected therewith,” on May 19, 2015.
It was again amended in 2018 during preparations for the 2019 general elections.
Trouble began in March 2020 when a former Speaker, Rt. Hon. Frank Adah, approached the Industrial Court of Nigeria, sitting in Calabar asking the court to compel the State to pay him pension as a former Governor since he acted in an acting capacity following the nullification of the elections that produced Governor Imoke and his Deputy, Efiok Cobham by the Tribunal and the Court of Appeal.
The Court declined his prayers and further held that provisions of the amended Cross River Pensions Law which gives pension to a former Speaker or Deputy Speaker, were not expressly mentioned by section 124(5) of the Constitution, and such law is inconsistent with the Constitution and null and void.
The State implemented that judgment and stopped paying former Speakers and Deputy Speakers. But, the House of Assembly passed a new law again to take out the word “pension,” and replace such with the phrase, “special allowances,” for the Speakers and Deputy Speakers.