Against the 4.1 million population of Zamfara State, 12 persons who have served the state as governors, deputy governors and speakers of the state House of Assembly are to share N702million annually, no thanks to the greed and machinations of the immediate-past governor of the state, Abdulaziz Yari.
Like a thief in the night, Yari secretly pushed for the amendment of the Zamfara State pension law for ex-governors at the twilight of his administration. Amended at the peak of the banditry in the state, the pension package was a pipe laid to continue to milk the state after his tenure as governor of the state.
The amendment was not publicized in March when the state House of Assembly under the watch of Yari’s cronies passed it. It was same scenario when the draft law was assented to by Yari. One would be surprised that even richer states in the country like Lagos do not have a fat welfare package for their former governors.
Under the Yari’s law, each of the ex governor would draw N10 million as upkeep allowance monthly, deputy N5 million each, ex speaker N3 million while their deputy speaker would be going home with N1.5 million each.
Annually, the three ex governors, Ahmad Sani Yarima, Mahmud Aliyu Shinkafi and Yari would get N360 million annually, three ex deputy governors N180 million, three past speakers, N108 million and their deputy speakers N54 million annually in line with Yari’s state pension law for himself and colleagues.
When the letter of Yari to his successor in Zamfara state government house, Bello Matawalle was leaked to the social media, disbelief trailed it. The social media was inflamed by Yari’s request. In displaying his greed, Yari said since the expiration of his tenure in May, he was only paid the upkeep allowance twice for the month of June and July and that his pension for the month of June has not been paid.
Many disbelieved and doubted the authenticity of the request because it came at time thousands of pensioners in the state who had served diligently and meritoriously have not been paid their stipend of N10,000 or less. The N10m upkeep of Yari will be enough to pay 1,000 or more of Zamfara pensioners.
It is a common knowledge that the arrears being owed the pensioners were as a result of bad governance. To many, the eight years reign of Yari was hell for the Zamfara. Aside exposing the people to banditry, his tenure took away the pride of the state, farming. In the whole of northwest, Zamfara before the coming of Yari stood tall in term agricultural production.
Yari’s demand for the payment of his upkeep allowance came three weeks after Matawalle offset the N200m examination fees owed the National Examinations Council (NECO), to facilitate the release of students’ results. The debt was incurred by Yari while serving as the governor of the state.
Thousands of indigenes of the state who sat for secondary school examination had their results withheld following Yari’s refusal to pay the fees. The non- payment of the fees added petrol to fire in the state’s education sector. The misrule of previous administrations had placed the state top from behind in the education sector.
However, it turned out that the N10m upkeep request was genuinely made by the former governor. No denial from him, thus it authenticity was confirmed. It was the request that laid the foundation for the repealing of the anti-Zamfarawa pension law for former governors.
A bill for the repeal of the law was given accelerated consideration it deserved last week. Leading debate on the bill, the leader of the Zamfara House of Assembly, Faruk Musa Dosara, said the law should be repealed as the jumbo pay for the political office holders was at the detriment of the retired civil servants in the state who have not been paid their entitlements for years.
In seconding the amendment, Tukur Jekada Birnin Tudu said the repeal of the law was highly necessary as pension package was detrimental to the socio economic well being of the people of the state. Hours later, the governor assented to the bill, thus cutting the conduit pipe laid by Yari for the continuation of his milking of the state.
No wonder Yari was hellbent in forcing his crony, Mukhtar Shehu Idris, aka Koguna on the state during the governorship election. With all force, the former governor fought everybody, ignored wise counseling from all, including President Muhammadu Buhari (as revealed by Yarima Bakura recently) to ensure Koguna succeeds him.
The video of Yari’s threat to send the national chairman of his party, All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole to early grave is still trending on the social media space. With his position, he balkanized the party into two, his camp and the G-8 led by a former vibrant lawmaker, Senator Kabiru Marafa of the Zamfara central senatorial district.
Then the group of eight aspirants (G-8) were termed as rebels following their stand that the rule of law must prevail and that the party constitution must be respected.
Except for rebel Marafa, Yari and former political officer holders in the state would have been guzzling N702m without the public knowing. The scenario of the jumbo pay has vindicated Marafa and has shown that lawmaker truly loves people and have them at heart.
Thumb up for Marafa. Nigerians need many more of Marafa to set the country on the path to success and progress. Yes, it is still fresh in our minds how the case instituted by Marafa passed through lower court to Court of Appeal and then to the apex court (Supreme Court), where the justices ruled out and sent Yari, Koguna and their cronies to political oblivion.
Except for the introduction of Sharia legal system in 2001, no issue has attracted attention to Zamfara state like the Yari’s jumbo package. The likes of Marafa are urgently needed in other states.