A leading pro-democracy and non-governmental organization – HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has challenged the former governor of Anambra State Mr. Peter Obi to disclose to Nigerians what governors earn as emoluments and allowances.
HURIWA which applauded the recent revelation of the unpardonably juicy earnings of senators as made by the senator representing central Kaduna, Comrade Shehu Sani, however urged the Anambra born political statesman and erstwhile two terms governor Mr. Peter Obi to make good his threat to make the disclosure on salaries of governors.
HURIWA said the extraordinary emoluments of senators including N200 million each as yearly constituency projects which are never accounted for is one of the reasons why the election periods are characterized by bloody violence by different political power hungry selfish Nigerians.
The group however stated that both the offices of governor and the Presidency are also administered like money guzzling machines which is why recurrent expenditures takes over 75% of annual budget leaving only an infinitesimal percentage for capital projects which are never executed qualitatively and timeously.
In a media statement issued jointly by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director Miss Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA also lambasted governors of Imo and Niger states for exhibiting what the group calls primitive nepotism and the conversion of government resources to their families as alleged by critics.
HURIWA applauded the Etsu Nupe Alhaji Yahaya Abubakar Kusodu (Ph.D)for courageously condemning the practice of serial nepotism in Niger state by the governor Alhaji Sani Bello just as the group carpeted the Imo State governor Mr. Rochas Okorocha for mismanaging the resources of Imo state, turning governance into family business and for threatening the sanctity of next year’s governorship election by forcing his son-in-law as his possible successor even when this is a violation of his constitutional oath of office not to allow his private interest to override the public interests.
The Rights group also challenged President Muhammadu Buhari to adhere strictly to the constitutionally guaranteed federal character principle in appointments and stop the nepotism that has trailed his style of administration including the involvement of his Uncles, Nieces and Nephews in running key administrative duties in the presidency. HURIWA calls for the investigation of the allegation by former Representative from Kano state Dr Junaid Muhammed that a Nephew of President Muhammadu Buhari who is a Personal Assistant to the President has suddenly become a billionaire within three years of holding unmerited Presidential appointment.
Speaking on the threat by the Anambra former governor to reveal the expenditures of offices of governors in Nigeria, HURIWA told Mr. Peter obi that posterity and indeed history will be harsh towards him should he fail to publicly reveal how much the governors spend from public treasuries including the illegal security votes running into billions of Naira.
HURIWA stated that: “we are delighted to read from the erudite erstwhile Anambra state governor that he is ready to disclose how much each governor of the 36 states of the federation pick up each month. Our challenge to this gentleman is to please without further delay, disclose to Nigerians how much of public fund are spent by governors.”
“We believe that the public and transparent disclosure of these exact figures of public cash spent by governors will promote in a very fundamental way, the principles of open government, transparency and accountability and would result in systematic clamour for immediate reforms to cut down on the costs of governance so as to promote good governance.”
HURIWA recalled that Mr. Peter Obi, a former governor of Anambra State has stated that what governors earn in Nigeria will cause more outrage in the country than revelation of Senators’ salaries.
HURIWA recalled that the former governor speaking as a panelist at the dialogue organized by Ripples Centre for Data and Investigative Journalism in Lagos on Thursday said governors’ earning in Nigeria was immoderate compared to earnings of public office holders in the United States of America.
HURIWA further recalled that Mr. Obi told the audience that if he revealed how much a Nigerian governor earned, the outrage would be hotter than what trailed the N13.5 million monthly pay of senators.
HURIWA quoted Peter Obi as saying thus: “None of you knows what a governor earns, quote me anywhere if you know you won’t be here. It is something you can’t imagine. You just know the one of senators, and you are shouting, but what if you know that of the governors. America’s GDP is way above Nigeria’s but an American senator earns $174,000 (about N50 million) a year and you can imagine what his Nigerian counterpart earns in a month.”
HURIWA stated that the former Anambra state governor who was of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) had also stated that: “In America, governors earn according to their state. The governor of California is the highest paid in America, and he earns $192, 000. The smallest state earns $70, 000. But in Nigeria, I can tell you because I’ve been there, the cost of just keeping convoys alone is in millions. And when people ask me why am I saying these things, I tell them that even if we made mistakes yesterday, can’t we correct it today? I asked them, why are all these vehicles following me, and nobody was able to explain to me. I didn’t stop it because of them following me, but the cost of maintaining them was high. I asked them why do we need to spend about N30 million fueling these vehicles that 60 percent are empty when following me?”
On the reported prohibitive earnings of legislators as disclosed by Senator Shehu Sani, HURIWA challenged credible civil society groups and community based groups to meticulously demand from the federal and state legislators the records of all the expenditures made in the name of constituency projects just as the National Assembly and States’ Assembly Service Commissions should be compelled to demand accountability from each law makers for proper record keeping.
HURIWA has also called for the abrogation of constituency projects fund and the pruning down of the amounts paid to legislators and governors as allowances.
On the cases of primitive nepotism in Imo, Nigerian states and presidency, HURIWA said it violates section 15(5) of the 1999 constitution which provides that the Nigerian state must abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power just as the Rights group condemned the plot by Imo state governor to impose his son-in-law as his successor in office. HURIWA said the plots might plunge Imo state into political violence.