SERAP Seeks Court Order To Redirect Former Governors’ Life Pension Funds To Education

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July 10 (THEWILL) – The Socio-Economic Rights and Responsibility Project (SERAP) has dragged the 36 state governors before a Federal High Court, in Lagos, over funds budgeted to pay the life pensions of former governors .

SERAP described pensions as underserved for former governors, saying the funds could be used to provide poor children with access to quality basic education in their states.

More than 40 billion naira have reportedly been paid to 47 former governors from 21 of the 36 states in the form of pensions and the provision of houses, staff and replaceable motor vehicles between three and four years.

However, several states have reportedly failed to provide matching funds to access more than N51 billion in matching grants allocated by the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) to basic education in the country.

In lawsuit number FHC/L/CS/1120/2022, filed last week in the Federal High Court in Lagos, SERAP seeks, among other things: “An order of mandamus to direct and compel the 36 state governors to pay the funds which would enable poor Nigerian children to have access to quality basic education in their respective states.

“A mandamus order to direct and compel the 36 state governors to put in place mechanisms for transparency and accountability in the expenditure of any UBEC matching grant.”

In a supporting affidavit, SERAP argued that “state governors are paying former governors of their states billions of naira in life pensions and other retirement benefits, while failing to invest in education and to provide funds that would allow poor Nigerian children to benefit from their states. access to quality education.

“Disbursing matching funds for basic education in several states would be a major step forward for children’s rights and would guarantee the rights and well-being of all children, regardless of their socio-economic background.

“UBEC’s report that several states have failed to access N51.6 billion in matching grants suggests that these states are doing very little for poor children. This also explains why the number of out-of-school children in the country has continued to rise. The number is currently over 13 million.

“Failure of States to pay counterpart funds is contrary to the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 [as amended]the law on universal compulsory and free basic education and the country’s international human rights obligations.

“The persistent failure to pay matching funds has contributed enormously to depriving poor Nigerian children of access to quality basic education, opportunity and development.”

The Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) and the Federal Capital Territory Minister joined the lawsuit as defendants.

The lawsuit filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers, Kolawole Oluwadare and Opeyemi Owolabi, reads in part: “Rather than spending public funds to pay former governors undeserved pensions and other retirement benefits, governors should Prioritize investment in education by disbursing any outstanding balance matching funds to UBEC.

“The redirection of public funds budgeted for life pensions of former governors to fund education would be entirely in keeping with the constitutional oath of office, as well as 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 expenditures would deprive poor Nigerian children of access to quality, compulsory and free basic education in several states and would burden the next generation.

“States should prioritize the payment of their matching funds above spending on lifelong pensions and other misallocations of scarce resources.

“According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), 1 in 3 children do not complete primary school in several states. 27.2% of children between the ages of 6 and 11 do not attend school. Only 35.6% of children aged 3 to 5 months attend kindergarten.

“Basic education in several states has continued to experience steady decline. The quality of education offered is low and standards have continued to decline.

“The learning environment is not conducive to effective learning. School facilities are in a state of extreme disrepair, requiring major rehabilitation. Basic teaching and learning resources are generally unavailable, leaving many teachers deeply demoralized.

“This situation is manifestly contrary to Section 18 of the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 [as amended]; and Articles 2(1) and 11(2) of the Universal Compulsory and Free Basic Education Act.

“States are required to progressively implement socio-economic rights, including the right to quality education commensurate with the level of available resources. A gross misallocation of resources to the detriment of the enjoyment of the right to quality education constitutes a violation of human rights.

No date has been set for the hearing of the lawsuit.

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