A bill for a law to provide life pension for the former governor and deputy governor of Enugu State has scaled through first reading at the Enugu State House of Assembly.
This is even as the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, in November 2020, during the presentation of the 2021 Appropriation Bill to the state House of Assembly, moved to stop the payment of pension to ex-governors and their deputies in the state.
According to Sanwo-Olu, the decision was to cut the costs of governance while engendering a spirit of selflessness in public service.
This move was commended by stakeholders and citizens who said it was a positive response to public yearnings for an abrogation of an insensitive law, noting that there was no basis to justify payment of pension for governors and their deputies who were elected for four or eight years during which they were fairly taken care of by the states.
While it is heartening that some other states with similar laws have either abrogated them or indicated an intention to do so, Enugu state’s executives are seeking to award a pension to their former officials.
The development calls to question the democratic disposition of many public office holders who ignore public outcry against obnoxious laws, which only serve to further enrich a few past officeholders while impoverishing the majority of the citizens.
The Executive bill, which was presented for first reading during the plenary in Enugu on Thursday, sought to make the governor and deputy governor entitled to receive gratuity as well as pension for life, after serving their tenure in office, at the expense of the state government.
The bill also made provision for medical allowance of about N12 million per annum for one surviving spouse, provided that such spouse was married to the governor while in office.
While the state government would provide adequate security for the former governors for their lifetime, the bill when passed would also mandate the state government to provide three vehicles to the governor and replace them every four years.
One can only wonder how the deprivation of the masses for the luxurious comfort of a few past leaders can be in the state’s best interest.
Critics have argued that the “outlandish awards” only deplete the state’s resources, leaves little for development, and can hardly be sustained for long.
Besides, how will public office holders be motivated to provide basic social amenities like security and health facilities for the public, with the existence of a law that guarantees them more than adequate security and the best of medical services in or outside the country, all at the expense of the common man?
The bill reads: “A person who had held office as elected governor or deputy governor in Enugu state or any other state should be entitled to a pension for life.
“The entitlement to the pension should be provided that such a person was not removed from office by the process of impeachment.
“When a former governor or former deputy governor dies, the state government should make adequate arrangement and bear the financial responsibility for his burial.
“The state government should pay a condolence allowance of a sum equivalent to the annual basic salary of the incumbent to his next of kin.”
In his remark, Deputy Speaker of the House, Uche Ugwu, who presided over the plenary, asked his colleague to properly study the bill to make a robust contribution during the second reading.
The House thereafter adjourned its plenary to Tuesday, March 16, 2021.
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