John Okoh, Lagos
Senate President Dr. Abukakar Bukola Saraki has clarified an earlier report credited to him that he was pressured to put a stop to payment of his pensions as former governor of Kwara State.
His Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Yusuph Olaniyonu, said in a statement on Wednesday that contrary to reports that it was the agitations by certain groups that prompted Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, to stop the payment of his pension, it is proper to clarify that on August 20th, 2015, Saraki wrote to the Kwara State Government to stop the payment of his pensions.
He said; “As a responsive and responsible government official, the President of the Senate has always toed the moral and legal high-ground in all his actions.
“This is why since he left office as Kwara State Governor in 2011 — even before his directive that his pension payment be stopped on the 20th of August, 2015 — this pension was always used as a scholarship and education endowment fund from which first-class graduates and law school students have benefitted.
“The money has also been utilized for the purchase of JAMB and GCE forms for secondary school leavers seeking to further their education..
“Additionally, the decision to stop his pension was done entirely of his own volition two years ago. in fact, Dr. Saraki had at an interactive session with journalists in Ilorin early 2016, he mentioned the action he had taken on the pension. This is why the recent insinuations in the media attributing the Senate President’s actions to a July 14th, 2017 statement by some group, is another futile attempt to claim credit where there is none to be claimed.
“Moving forward, it is necessary that the Media is guided by the fact that irrespective of the payment of his pension or not, the Senate President will continue to work on empowering his constituents and the people in Kwara State, as he has always done, with or without any pension payment.
“At this point, it is important that the Media endeavors to be specific in their reporting and not ascribe needless justifications or commentaries to otherwise independent actions”, Olaniyonu stated.
Saraki who appeared at the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Forum in Abuja, had been reported as saying that he wrote a letter to the state government to stop the payment of the pension following complaints from some quarters that former governors who are currently senators or ministers were receiving pension and salary in their new jobs, all from the government.
“No, I’m not collecting pension; the moment I saw that allegation, I wrote to my state to stop my pension.
“So, I speak for myself on that part; I’m not doing that, I am not receiving pension from my state,’’ he said.
On other senators involved on the issue, Saraki said “I think I will leave everybody to their individual decision.
“Morally, if you have got another job, you should give it up until when you are truly a pensioner.
“Some of these oversights are not addressing the issues. What the states should do is to go and amend their laws to say that if you have another appointment then you are not entitled to that benefit.
“With this, we will just simplify the matter.”