The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), Sunday, dragged 36 state governors to court for failing to divert the funds meant to pay their pensions for quality basic education for poor children.
SERAP described the pension paid to ex-governors as “undeserved”.
The group lamented that there are too many out-of-school children in the different states in the country. Hence, it called for the replacement of life pension with funding of education for less privileged pupils.
SERAP also noted that 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 arguing that “State governors are paying former governors in their states billions of naira in life pensions and other retirement benefits
“They fail to invest in education and pay funds that would allow poor Nigerian children within their states to enjoy access to quality education,” he added.
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.”
The group, however, recommended that states should prioritise paying their counterpart funds over and above spending on life pensions and other misallocations of scarce resources.
“Basic education in several states has continued to experience a steady decline. The quality of education offered is low and standards have continued to drop.
“The learning environment does not promote effective learning. School facilities are in a state of extreme disrepair, requiring major rehabilitation. Basic teaching and learning resources are generally not available, leaving many teachers profoundly demoralised,” SERAP emphasised.
It highlighted also that this situation is patently contrary to Section 18 of the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 [as amended]; and Sections 2(1) and 11(2) of the Compulsory, Free Universal Basic Education Act.
No date for the court hearing yet.