By Dennis Agbo
ENUGU—THE Enugu State House of Assembly, Tuesday, commenced moves to include Speakers of the House and their deputies in the Pension Act of former governors of the state.
Contributing to the debate on the Gubernatorial Pensions Amendment Bill, member representing Awgu South State Constituency, Udo Okoye, suggested that the Speakers and their deputies be included in the pensions, adding that his suggestion was based on the enormity of work load on the two top officials of the state legislature which he said required such entitlements.
Okoye also cited the case of permanent secretaries in the state ministries, who he said were entitled to pensions even when the jobs of Speakers and their deputies’ were more tedious and cumbersome.
Also in his contribution, the Chief Whip, Mathias Ekweremadu, spoke in the same vein, saying it was high time the state took care of their past leaders in view of the financial crisis which they faced on retirement.
Most members, who spoke on the bill, noted that they did not anticipate that the Speaker and his deputy would be beneficiaries of the pension scheme, even as they were concerned about the future status of leaders of the state after their retirement.
The ongoing debate on the amendment bill is aimed at correcting the shortcomings in the 2007 Ex-Governors Pensions Act, which excluded ex-governors of the state who were non-indigenes of Enugu State.
The first governor of the state, Dr Okwesilieze Nwodo, had lamented that he had never received a dime as pension, stressing that only the Lexus SUV he received as gift was given to him by the immediate past governor, Sullivan Chime.
However, it was learned that the amendment bill would also correct the non-inclusion of ex-governors who were non- indigenes of the state to enable them benefit, since there was nowhere in the 1999 Constitution where it was stated that non-indigenes should be excluded or that the governors of Enugu State must be indigenes of the state.
Elected former governors or their deputies who were impeached before the expiration of their tenures would not be entitled to pensions.
Debate on the bill would continue at a later date to be determined by the House Committee on Rules and Businesses.