The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed a lawsuit against the 36 state governors for diversion of public funds for paying undeserved lifetime pensions to ex-governors.
The funds originally is for counterpart funding of basic education in their various states.
Over N40 billion has reportedly been paid to 47 former governors from 21 of the 36 states in pensions and provision of houses, staff and motor vehicles replaceable between three and four years.
However, several states have reportedly failed to pay the counterpart funds to access over N51 billion matching grants earmarked by the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) for basic education in the country.
In the suit number FHC/L/CS/1120/2022 filed last week at the Federal High Court, Lagos, SERAP is seeking “an order of mandamus to direct and compel the 36 state governors to pay the counterpart funds that would allow poor Nigerian children to enjoy access to quality basic education in their respective states.”
SERAP is also seeking “an order of mandamus to direct and compel the 36 state governors to put in place mechanisms for transparency and accountability in the spending of any accessed matching grants from UBEC.”
SERAP is arguing that, “State governors are paying former governors in their states billions of naira in life pensions and other retirement benefits while failing to invest in education and pay funds that would allow poor Nigerian children within their states to enjoy access to quality education.”
According to SERAP, “Paying the counterpart funds for basic education in several states would be a major step forward for children’s rights, and ensure the rights and well-being of all children, regardless of their socio-economic backgrounds.”
The suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers Kolawole Oluwadare and Opeyemi Owolabi, read in part, “Rather than spending public funds to pay ex-governors undeserved pensions and other retirement benefits, governors should prioritise investment in education by paying up any outstanding counterpart funds to UBEC.
“Redirecting public funds budgeted for life pensions for former governors to fund education would be entirely consistent with the constitutional oath of office, and the letter and spirit of the Nigerian Constitution, as it would promote efficient, honest, and legal spending of public money.
“Continuing to spend scarce public funds on these expenses would deny poor Nigerian children access to quality, compulsory and free basic education in several states, and burden the next generation”.