March 16, 2021

Protesters ground Enugu Assembly over proposed bill for Ex-governors, deputies

By Chinedu Adonu

A non-governmental organisation, South Sahara Social Development Organization (SSSDO), on Tuesday stormed Enugu State Assembly complex protesting against the bill seeking for life pension for ex-governors, deputies and their wives in Enugu State.

The proposed bill by the Enugu State House of Assembly recommends an annual basic salary and 300 per cent of the current annual basic salary as a housing allowance.

This bill, which equally bestows the sum of N12 million per annum as ‘medical allowance’ for the surviving spouse of the governor, had already scaled through the first reading at the state House of Assembly.

Speaking at the state House of Assembly, the Executive Director of SSDO, Dr Stanley Ilechukwu, said that the NGO joins other well meaning citizens of the state to condemn “this egregious Bill and needlessly exorbitant gift for already well compensated service to the government.

The group therefore urged the Speaker and members of the House of Assembly to reconsider and to junk the bill in its entirety, stressing that the bill is insensitive and ill-timed.

“We condemn this egregious bill as a needlessly exorbitant gift for already well compensated service to the government. We draw the attention of he state House of Assembly to far more important issues in need of measured, responsible legislation, including the scarcity of water and WASH bill still awaiting second reading. The current Life pension bill is insensitive and ill-timed in light of increase of petrol pump price, electricity tariff and food expenses causing untold suffering to the people of Enugu with no relief in sight.

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“We remind the honourable members that similar laws have been repealed by their counterpart in Lagos, Zamfara and Kwara States. One wonders why Enugu would buck this commendable precedent and do the reverse.

“We urge the speaker and members of the House of Assembly to reconsider and to junk the bill in its entirety. The taxpayers are already under enormous strain from the increased cost of living and do not need the added burden of unjustifiable pension to retired executives. It is our hope that the representatives will do what is right for the people of Enugu who have entrusted them with their mandate.

Responding, the speaker Enugu State House of Assembly, Hon, Edward Ubosi, commended the group for a peaceful protest, stressing that the bill have been stepped down to allow them study it.

Hon, Ubosi disclosed that the bill which is a constitutional matter was a bill of 2007 and amended in 2017 to include those that is from Enugu state but served as governor in another state.

He assured that the masses would be invited to make an input before it would be pass into law, saying that they should be allowed to site the bill first and delete what is not a constitutional matter that contained in it.

“I appreciate you for the way and manner you conducted yourself. It has not called for protest. This bill is bill of 2007 and was amended in 2017 to accommodate former governors like Jim Nwobodo, Okwesilieze Nwodo who served in another state as governor. This bill is a constitutional matter, we are human being and must listen to the voice of the masses.

“The problem is that house of Assembly members have not seen what is in the bill. We should be allowed to site what is in the bill to know what to delete and what to add in it.

“We just stepped it down in the house to allow us look into it. We can’t say anything on it until we finish studying it to make input. We will form a committee after studying it and invite the public to make their own input because we are representing the masses and cannot say anything without consulting them”, Ubosi said.