Governor Bello Muhammad Matawalle of Zamfara State yesterday signed into law, the bill stopping allowances for former governors, deputies, speakers and their deputies in the state.
The bill was brought to the governor by Speaker of the state House Assembly, Alhaji Nasiru Muazu Magarya, and other principal officers of the House.
The Assembly had on Tuesday repealed the law which provided for the payment of pension and other allowances to the former political officeholders.
The repeal of the law came barely 48 hours after a letter written by former governor, Alhaji Abdulaziz Yari Abubakar to the Zamfara State government, demanding payment of his upkeep allowance, was made public.
The letter generated heated debate within and outside the state. While assenting to the bill, Matawalle alleged that former Governor Yari paid himself N360 million from the state pension funds, shortly before he left the office and that from the amount, he only paid some selected permanent secretaries.
“If you could remember, former governor Yari sent a letter to me demanding that his N10 million monthly upkeep allowance be paid and he was even threatening to take me to court should I fail to pay the money.
“I called my deputy, the state assembly speaker, and his deputy and asked them whether they need such mind-boggling allowance and they all answered in the negative. Then we decided to repeal the law backing the payment and I have assented to it.
“Our successors will not find it easy to come up with such an obnoxious law to pillage the little resources of the state in the future.
“There is no reason whatsoever for the state to pay the past leaders a whopping sum of N702 million annually to the detriment of dying pensioners in the state,” Matawalle said.
The governor further said he could not comprehend why a large portion of the state’s meager resources could be dedicated to a select few while most of the state’s retired civil servants did not receive a dime for almost seven out of the eight years of the past administration.
“It is on record that the backlog of pension and gratuity for local government workers and primary school teachers left behind by the Abdulaziz Yari administration stands at N3 billion just as that of the retired civil servants stands at N3 billion.
‘‘What moral justification could be offered for such Jumbo package for a select few when the social index has consistently indicated that the majority of our population live in abject poverty’’, he added.
He said anyone ‘‘who attains the position of governor, and other top political positions in the state are financially well-off even before attaining the position and as such no political office holder would be allowed to pilfer the citizens of the state to death’’.