Last week, the Imo State Governor, Senator Hope Uzodinma assented to a bill ending the payment of pensions and other emoluments to past governors and speakers in the state. This has attracted both applause and condemnation from Imo people across the nation. It is also not unlikely that Imo may be the first to have taken the bull by the horn to end this matter which has remained a thorny issue in the country’s polity.
For so long the practice of paying past governors and speakers pensions after their severance package has been attracting serious argument all over the nation. This is predicated on the fact that the lean resources of the state are not strong enough to sustain emoluments of a few people which served the state for just a few number of years. Some have tagged the payments ‘criminal armed robber pay’ among other derisive words used to describe it.
We still recall the case of the current governor of Zamfara State who refused to pay his predecessor, Gov Sani, the sum of N10m monthly emolument. He had explained that it is not the wisest thing to do for a governor who ran down the state and is facing court actions to still be earning from the state. This same situation holds for Imo. Besides, what the governors are paid does not appear justified in the light of the state’s indebtedness to its workers.
Many have also traded the argument that not all the past governors were corrupt and so the blanket cover may impose some injustices to others. Whichever way it is looked some opinions aver that there must be sacrifices made by somebody in order to achieve the needed result that would benefit the generality of the people. In the case of Imo, it is rumoured that the government may be netting between 1.3-1.5bn savings annually from this singular cost item.
There is no arguing it that this sum in a lean period such as we have which is fraught with so much uncertainty would impact positively on the treasury of the state if it is properly managed. It is on account of this that many are applauding the Imo Assembly and the governor in their perceived prudent management of the state’s scarce resources. Edge Express wishes to commend the law as a good step in the right direction. The Recovery agenda of the government in the 3 R may be yielding result after all.
Our democracy has been found very expensive taking a large proportion of our annual budget and displacing opportunities to undertake developmental projects. At a point it was once reported that about 25 percent of our recurrent expenditure was used in servicing the national assembly alone. It is very worrisome. We would be glad that other states key into the Imo initiative and free some funds for their development in other sectors. It does not add any value that few persons who have served their state for a short period of about 8 years would still be drawing emoluments from the state coffers almost equivalent to their income while in service even after they have left office. Edge Express appreciates the efforts of all the actors in the Imo initiative and urge them to explore further and discover other ways that constitute drain pipes into the state treasury.