As NLC President, Adams Oshiomhole was on the side of the common man, taking government to task on issues of the welfare of workers. It was this credibility he drew on to become the governor of Edo State in 2008 after a protracted court battle, won a second term and eventually installed his successor, Godwin Obaseki.
His pension package, however, marks the end of his association with the masses. This package, as contained in the 2007 Pension Rights of the Governor and Deputy Governor Law, is as follows:
- A residential building worth N200million
- Pension for life at a rate equivalent to 100 percent of his last annual salary
- An officer not above salary grade level 12 as Special Assistant
- A personal secretary not below Grade Level 10 who shall be selected by the former governor from the public service of Edo State
- Two cooks
- Two armed policemen as security
- Three vehicles to be bought by the State Government and liable to be replaced every five years
- Three drivers who shall be selected by the former governor and paid by the state government
- Free medical treatment for the governor and his immediate family.
Surely, this kind of package would be excessive even at the best of times. Edo state is one of the 35 states that have received budget support from the Federal Government to cushion falling oil prices. The state is not out of the woods yet, and the funds used for the pension can be used in other areas like education and healthcare.
The expectation that the outgoing governor would be sensitive to the times as a former labour leader, has proved misplaced. Collecting a such a pension package is out of step with the current reality of many people, who are struggling even more to make ends meet in a recession economy.
In a country where the minimum wage is N18,000 and so many live below the poverty line, there is no justification for being entitled to a N200 million house, one that will take a person earning minimum wage 925 years to accumulate.
It is also not like Edo state recorded huge leaps in economic growth or infrastructure in his time as governor. The state is not on its way to becoming Dubai. Many of the roads in Benin and elsewhere are still horrible, riddled with potholes and prone to floods.
We call on the Edo State House of Assembly to make the entitlements in that law much more modest. The aim of governance is service, not enrichment.