Life Pension: Enugu Assembly Grudgingly Steps Down Bill Says Public Cannot Dictate Its Affairs

Enugu State House of Assembly

Enugu State House of Assembly has stepped down the controversial Life Pension Bill for former governors, their deputies and spouses. The House also said it cannot be swayed by public criticism of its proceedings.

The stepping down of the Bill came after public outcry about the jumbo package contained in it for the beneficiaries.

The proposal sought to appropriate at least 900 percent of a governor’s annual salary as his monetary entitlement every year after leaving office.

As soon as the Bill passed through the first reading at the House of Assembly last Thursday, the Save Enugu Group (SEG), a socio-political group, issued a 21-day ultimatum to the State House of Assembly to “kill it.”

Its National Coordinator, Willy Ezugwu, said in a statement that the lawmakers must kill the Bill immediately for peace and tranquility in the state’s political arena to be sustained.

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He stated that SEG was already mobilising “conscious citizens, civil society groups and labour unions in the state to shut down Enugu State House of Assembly for as long as it will take to kill the most insensitive Bill.”

“It is shocking that while a state like Lagos, with high internally generated revenue that runs into billions of naira monthly, has abolished pensions for former governors, the Enugu State House of Assembly allowed such a Bill to pass first reading,’’ Mr. Ezugwu added.

Other stakeholders in the state shared the views of the SEG and called for the killing of the Bill.

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At the plenary session on Tuesday, the Speaker of the House, Edward Ubosi, said the Bill was not the making of the Seventh Assembly but had existed since 2007, adding that the 1999 Constitution as amended, gave backing for such legislation.

Mr. Ubosi said the stepping down of the Bill would help his colleagues to thoroughly go through it to enable them to delete as well as add necessary sections to it.

According to the speaker, the public should have allowed the lawmakers to study the bill, which just passed through the first reading last Thursday.

Earlier, the Leader of the Assembly, Ikechukwu Ezeugwu, expressed shock at the level of protest that followed the presentation of the bill, which he said was not necessary.

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The leader said that the public could not dictate nor teach the lawmakers how to do their job of enacting laws for the growth and development of the state and warned members of the public to mind their utterances.

Mr. Ezeugwu noted, however, that the Assembly would be guided by the opinions of their constituents in the consideration of the bill and added that it would hold a public hearing to allow members of the public to make their inputs.

He maintained that the seventh Assembly was “not a rubber stamp.”

Enugu State was only able to generate N12.2 billion as revenue in the first half of 2020.

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