Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara State has said that he will use savings from the state’s repealed pensions law for youth empowerment and development of infrastructure in the state.
Matawalle gave the assurance on Wednesday while assenting to the repealed law in which former governors, deputy governors, speakers of the state House of Assembly were supposed to collect about a billion Naira annually as upkeep allowance from the state government.
He noted that “the repealed law which was hurriedly passed by the immediate past administration of the state did not take into account the social and economic realities of the state”.
According to him, former Governor Abdulaziz Yari paid himself over N300 million as severance just before he left office.
He promised that his administration would only pay allowances as provided by the Revenue and Fiscal Mobilization Commission.
“I was shocked when I received a letter from former Governor Yari for the payment of the money that the failure of which I learned, the former governor threatened my administration with a court case.
“I called a meeting with my deputy as well as the speaker of the House of Assembly and we all agreed that we do not have any interest in such retirement allowance,” the governor said.
“Although the immediate past administration in the state left behind pensions liabilities of local government workers, primary school teachers and state civil servants amounting to about N10 billion.
“Apart from other liabilities such as promotion benefits, workers annual increment and the rest which have put the state in a terrible financial quagmire.
“The immediate past governor Yari is requesting the state government to pay him a whooping amount of N120 million annually, made up of a monthly upkeep allowance of N10 million.
“The ex-governor who recently wrote to the state government in this regard, was also under the repealed law supposed to be collecting the exact amount he was collecting as his monthly salary while as governor which should continue for him for life as his pension.
“In addition to these, he is supposed to get two vehicles to be bought by the State Government and replaceable after every four years; Free medical treatment for former Governor and his immediate families and vacation within Nigeria and outside.
“Thirty days vacation within Nigeria or outside Nigeria and a 5-bedroom house in any location of the choice of the former Governor within the country,” he said.
The governor further noted that the law also extended similar largesse to former Deputy Governors, former Speakers of the State Assembly, and former Deputy Speakers.
“If allowed thus, it will overstretch the lean resources of the state at a time when the same people who were supposed to pay the meagre amount as pensions to retired civil servants refused to do so and handed them over as liabilities to the present administration,” Mutawalle observed.
He said his administration was trying to put the state on a sound footing through the stoppage of armed banditry and other security challenges by attracting direct local and foreign investors to the state to gainfully engage its teeming unemployed youths towards rebuilding the state to the envy of others.
The governor, who tasked the past leaders to be selfless while charting a new course for the state, stressed that his administration will continue to focus more on matters of state development and the wellbeing of its citizens