Former Deputy Governor of Kwara State Joel Ogundeji has said the state government still pays him N900,000 as his monthly pension as former number two citizen of the state between 2003 and 2011.
He said the monthly pension pay is part of the pension packages that included N156m worth of four bedroom bungalows as recommended in the Kwara State Pensions Law 2010 for former governors and deputy governors. Ogundeji however said the law was not strictly complied with as the provision was for four-bedroom duplex.
Ogundeji’s statement, which was made before the Kwara State Judicial Commission of Inquiry on Sale of Public assets, gave the lie to a face-saving claim of Senator Bukola Saraki that the law had been repealed since 2018. Saraki made the comment after Kwara State Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq sent a bill to the House of Assembly to repeal the law which citizens insist is insensitive.
“The pension that is about to be stopped is about N900,000 monthly (for deputy Governor). As a retiree of the state, having worked for 35 years, my pension is about N36,000 monthly and they are adding it to make N900,000,” Ogundeji told the panel when questioned about some of his properties.
“You will agree with me that having worked for 35 years and Kwara State is paying me N36,000 monthly that cannot make me survive as an individual, let alone my wife, children and dependents. You know in our society some people depend on you that you have to feed. I have widows that I am assisting. So, the money does not belong to me alone.
“When you are in a position in the society, that position gives you more responsibility with many people depending on you. When I was a teacher my responsibility was too small but now the responsibility has grown up because I have many people who are depending on me and I feel happy to assist them.”
Ogundeji, who testified before the panel on his N156.4m property built for him by the state government between 2011 and 2012 as pension benefit, denied knowledge about funding and disbursement made to contractor to build the four bedroom bungalow property on AbdulRazaq Road GRA Ilorin.
“I know I am entitled to more than that based on the Law. But I did not protest. I did not do anything. Also, I was not showed the bill of quantity for the construction of the building. The funding and disbursement was handled solely by the state government,” he added.
When asked for the justification of former governors and former deputy governors’ pension law, Chief Ogundeji said the pension law for former governors and deputy governors was necessary to meet huge responsibility before them as political leaders.
“My Lord, I will not say so (that it is not justifiable) because that house is useful for me. The people who are clustering around me now were able to be there. So, it gives me a relief,” he said.
Ogundeji also admitted building a house in his home town Iwo Isin and buying of a property at 12, Station Road GRA Ilorin at the sum of N7.5m while serving as the deputy governor.
“I bought my current house where I am living at 12, Station Road, GRA, Ilorin at the sum of N7.5m. I also spent N3m to renovate it while I was in the office,” he said.
AbdulRazaq, meanwhile, has since sent a bill to the House to repeal the law in line with his campaign promise and public request for the law to go. The repeal bill has undergone second reading at the Assembly.