November 4, 2010

Ex-Heads of State Pension: Senate warns coup plotters

By Inalegwu Shaibu

ABUJA—The Senate yesterday warned that the life bumper pay approved by the National Assembly for former Military Heads of State and members of their families was not an invitation for military take over of government.

Chairman, Senate Committee on Information and Media, Senator Ayogu Eze, who addressed newsmen, said any would-be coup plotter would be resisted by the Senate because sovereignty of Nigeria belongs to the people.

He said: “We are not sending any wrong message, the message we are sending actually is rather a strong message that assumption of political power by force of arms is anachronistic, undemocratic, out-modelled.

“It is out of fashion and I think that it is something that will even make anybody attempting it to look stupid and out of place.

“The message we are sending to them is that nobody should ever think of taking power by force, because if they take power by force, of course, they can’t even succeed and the message is to the generality of Nigerians.

“If the people say you cannot take power, you cannot take power, because the sovereignty actually belongs to the people, so we thought that the substantive issue is to concentrate on the things that will deepen the practice of democracy.”

Senator Eze further clarified that the new law did not provide any new special benefits to all the intended beneficiaries, as they were already enjoying pension.

He said “it is provided that if you are already receiving a pension, you either receive the remuneration that has been recommended by that law or your pension, you can’t receive both.

“So these people you are talking about are all pensioners, so they may chose to continue with their pension or they may chose to get the new remuneration.”

Senator Eze said the gesture by the National Assembly was meant to deepen the nation’s democracy, saying “the practice of democracy will always get better if we are all patient.”