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Nobody forced me to stop Kwara pension – Saraki

The Senate President, Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki said contrary to reports that it was the agitations by certain groups that prompted him to stop the payment of his pension; he had earlier written a letter to the Kwara State Government on August 20th, 2015, to that affect.
Saraki made this known on Tuesday, in a statement he issued through his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu.
“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 utilised 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 on his own volition two years ago. In fact, Dr. Saraki had at an interactive session with journalists in Ilorin early 2016, 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.
“At this point, it is important that the media endeavuors to be specific in their reporting and not ascribe needless justifications or commentaries to otherwise independent actions,” Saraki stated.
Meanwhile, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, has welcomed Saraki’s decision to stop receiving pensions from Kwara state, where he was the governor between 2003 and 2011.
SERAP urged Saraki to join the campaign to end the unjust, unfair and discriminatory practice of providing life pensions to former governors and to abolish laws in that regard.
In a statement issued yesterday, by SERAP Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, the organisation said, “It’s good news that Dr Saraki has publicly made known that he has stopped drawing pensions from Kwara State. We hope that other public officials still receiving double emoluments will follow Dr Saraki’s example and renounce such practice. We also urge the Senate President to publicly commit to donating to charities of his choice all pensions and allowances he has so far collected or to the public treasury.”
SERAP also asked Saraki to use his leadership position to urgently facilitate a resolution by the National Assembly condemning the practice and laws on double pay and life pensions for former governors now serving public officials; urging state assemblies to abolish such laws.

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