By Mumini AbdulKareem
A former Kwara State Head of Service (HoS), Alhaji Mohammed Dabarako has said that himself and labour leaders in the state where the brain behind the pension law for governors and deputy governors in the state.
The state pension law passed in 2011 when Saraki was Governor has been used as an object of blackmail especially by the opposition who accused him of allegedly living off the state’s resources.
Saraki, a two-term governor of the state initiated the review of the law during the tenure of the 8th ligature led by Hon Ali Ahmad.
But speaking with National Pilot in an exclusive interview, former HoS, Alhaji Mohammed Dabarako gave rare insight into how promulgation of the bill was initiated and for what purpose it was meant to serve.
According to him, Saraki was never the brain behind the promulgation of the Pension Laws for past governors and deputies in the state adding that all past civilian governors were beneficiaries.
Hear Him: It was unfortunate the way the issue of the pension law for former governors and their deputies has degenerated. It was not former governor Bukola that initiated the move. It was myself and the labour and we were thinking of retired Head of Service and SSGs that were civil servants who grow up in the service to be SSGs. Up till today, their status in the society is not all that good.
“We made three proposals which were to build houses, buy vehicles or increase their salaries. It was difficult for us to see them still entering public transport after 35years of service. We took the proposal to the then Governor Bukola Saraki for approval of all or any one of other three. It was those that were there with him who asked why we were not thinking of former governors and their deputies and asked whether we think people like former deputy governor Sayomi among others were comfortable. They asked us to go back and make a much comprehensive list and Saraki said we should go back and make a proposal to cover everybody.
“You know, since it was between me and labour that thought of this in the first place, we have no reason to think for politicians or the political class and our thoughts were not wrong. When I came back to the office and discussed with my permanent secretaries, they advised that I should tell the governor that the SSG should handled the aspect that has to do with politicians.
“Meanwhile, I did a draft and with a letter in my hand return to Bukola Saraki to inform him of the decision of the civil servant. The first Head of Service for Kwara was in 1979 and together with career SSGs, the number was not much. I am talking about people like Saidu Issa, MS Koro and Oyeyipo. When you look at their status, you will understand what I am saying. I went to the House of Assembly and defended pension law. Although, it was an executive bill, the lawmakers also bought the idea but it was the assembly members that differentiated between one term and two term governors. It is wrong to be looking at Saraki as the originator of the pension law in Kwara”, Dabarako noted.
He said Saraki’s position as the Governor’s Forum chair has nothing to do with his alleged influence to initiate the bill.
“Before we approved the building of Saraki’s pension house, they have already done something for Tinubu, Kwankwaso and Shekarau in Lagos and Kano states respectively. The houses built for the three of them were no less than N900m. I can confirm this to you because we went there to see it. Here, we expended around N250 for the Broadway property and when we wrote the memo for the governor’s for approval, he insisted we should patronise certain contractors to avoid review of the contract. For Saraki and his deputy then, Ogundeji, we patronised contractors that can deliver turnkey with a CLEAR instruction that no review will be entertained. And the houses were built and handed over”, he submitted.
By Mumini AbdulKareem