By Demola Akinyemi
Mixed reactions have trailed the proposed Bill for a law to make provisions for pension for the former governors and their deputies in the state since 1999 being moved by the Kwara State House of Assembly.
At the public hearing last Friday, organised by the Assembly to allow inputs from the public before it is passed into law, the NBA and Stakeholders Forum faulted the provisions and suggested some amendments, while the Congress of Nigerian Political Parties, CNPP, Ministry of Finance, and Head of Service, Alhaji Dabarako, among others, supported the Bill.
The Speaker, Mr Babatunde Mohammed, at the public hearing noted that it was a private bill, stressing that it is in line with Section124 (5) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,1999 and that it would serve as security for the state fund.
The bill, if passed into law, would allow former governors and their deputies to enjoy some benefits that include 100 per cent of their annual basic salary equivalent to that of the serving governor in the state.
Others include one residential house for the former governor, his deputy in any choice area of the state and one residential house in Abuja, annual vacation of 30 days outside Nigeria with 30 days estacodes and travel expenses, allowances for the governor, furniture payable every year, three cars for the former governor, two cars for his deputy, domestic staff, free medical treatment, security and drivers among others.
Also, the Ministry of Finance represented by Alh S.O,Gegele described the bill as laudable, calling on others state to emulate the gesture because of its advantages among which will discourage corruption by the holders of the exalted offices while in office, since provisions have been made for life after office.
Similarly, CNPP as submitted by its chairman, Mallam Zakari Mohammed said they are not against the pension for the former leaders but that it should be in the interest of the people, adding that the lawmakers should not do things that would make the public stone them after leaving office.
However, Ilorin branch of the NBA in a prepared statement read by its chairman, Mr. Dauda Jawondo pushed for the retention of the existing law, â€œKwara State Grant of Pension (Governor and Deputy Governor) Law Cap k.121) which states that, â€œsuch person shall be at a rate equivalent to the annual total salary of the incumbent governor and deputy governor of the state.
â€œWe submit this is a very reasonable law meant for good government of the state. The law is also all inclusive as it takes care of democratically elected governors and deputy governors of the state since its creation in 1967. The present bill allows people who have been privileged to lead become drains on the resources of the state and unsolicited and avoidable burden on the people.
â€œIt is noted that the bill under consideration makes no reference to this existing law, it is therefore suggested that the existing law be retained and put to use as this will serve the interest of the people of the state as against narrow and selfish interest of the privileged.â€