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Still On Life Pension For Politicians

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In recent times, some state houses of assembly moved for the process of enacting legislation to provide monthly life pensions for legislators.
Houses of Assembly in Kano and Bayelsa States have even passed a bill to that effect and the bills are awaiting governors’ assent.
Bayelsa House of Assembly proposes N500, 000 monthly pension to the Speakers of the assembly, Deputy Speakers; N200, 000 each and members N100, 000 each, although Governor Seriake Dickson of the State has yet to assent to the bill.
Kano State House of Assembly has a similar bill awaiting Governor Abdulahi Ganduje’s assent, while Ekiti State House of Assembly is reported to have been working in that regard.
Although none of the state governors has approved the bill, the proposed law continues to attract reactions from the public.
A large segment of the public notes that any push to make the bill for life pension for political office holders will prompt other states and Federal Government  to do same to the detriment of the masses.
A stalwart of the Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party, Mr Sesugh Akume, says it is inappropriate for some political office holders to institute a pension scheme for themselves after leaving office.
He explains that political positions ought to be a privilege and opportunity to serve the people and not as a career one can retire with a pension.
“The idea of severance packages and life pensions for elected officials is wrong and without merit,’’ he observes.
In his view, an economist, Prof. AbdulGafar ljaiya, says paying life pension to political office holders will cripple the anti corruption campaign of the present administration.
Ijaiya, from University of Ilorin, insists that political office holders, irrespective of years they occupy offices, do not qualify for pensions under the constitution.
“The political office holders taking pensions are thieves and corrupt officers who are retarding the nation’s economic growth and development,’’ he says.
Ijaiya is of the opinion that majority of the politicians has retired from their primary job where they draw pensions.
Similarly, financial experts, Mr Adetunji Adepeju and Mr Samson Olalere, argue that granting life pension to political office holders will put undue pressure on the economy.
“Life pension for political office holders in Nigeria is not needed, especially if you look at the executive.
“The maximum time you can spend in office is eight years, do you want to compare that with civil servants some of whom spend 35 years in the course of their career.
“The economic realities in Nigeria cannot support such idea of life pension,’’ Olalere says.
Adepeju says, “rather than take pension from government coffers after leaving office, let political office holders engage in pension scheme and draw from their monthly income.’’
However, the Branch Manager of Leadway Assurance Company in Ibadan, Mr Adekunle Akinpelu, observes that political office holders can also benefit from contributory pension scheme if while in office they sign up with pension fund administrators.
But the Secretary of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners in Oyo, Mr Olusegun Abatan, insists that life pensions for political office holders are immoral and ungodly.
“How can a politician that serves for four years want to get life pension when a civil servant that works for 35 years is owed 60 months of unpaid pension arrears,’’ Abatan asks.
In his view, the Chairman of Nigeria Union of Pensioners in Ondo Chief Raphael Adetuwo, advises that government should rather empower the Revenue Mobilisations, Allocation and Fiscal Commission to place all political office holders in the country on the same salary scale as civil servants.
He says:”The humongous salaries and allowances of public office holders, especially senators and House of Representatives members need to be reviewed.
“How can these people be collecting such huge money in a country where 80 per cent of the population are battling to meet their daily need?’’
A salary Grade Level 15 civil servant at the Okitipupa Local Government Council , Mr Obadele Meroyi, observes that “most of the political office holders who possess mere school certificate, are collecting salaries, allowances and packages far better than a professor and a salary Grade Level 17 civil servant.
“Giving them life pension automatically means legalising corruption and paying people who are doing absolutely nothing more than those doing the real job’’, he observes.
However, Assemblyman Tunbosun Oyintiloye of the Osun House of Assembly notes that before the bill for life pension for political office holders can be passed, it is necessary to find out what are the best international practices in developed democracies.
According to the lawmaker, such law might be a welcome development to the beneficiaries but there is need to be cautious of what its impact will be on the economy.
But the Head of Political Science Department, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Prof. Olajire Bamisaye, says placing political office holders on life pension will have a drag on the national economy.
Chief Executive Officer, Active Support for Rural People Initiative, a non-governmental organisation in Kebbi, Malam Ibrahim Ngaski, explains that “the implication of approving pension for politicians is that the funds meant for developing rural communities will  be diverted to their pension payment.
“Rather than clamour for undeserved pension, political office holders should help to sanitise existing pension schemes so that contributors will be able to access their money immediately after retirement.’’
A civil servant in Kano, Malam Ali Sani,warns that any attempt to introduce life pension for political office holders in the state will be resisted, while Malam Hassan Aminu, a civil servant in Kano, advises Nigerians to move against the plan.
Former Governor of old Sokoto, Malam Yahaya Abdulkarim, recalls that government funds are meant for development and ought to be channelled through proper ways that will facilitate development in all sectors not on pensions for politicians.
In his view, a lecturer at Umaru Musa Yar’Adua University, Katsina, Dr Suleiman Lawal, observes that any attempt to implement pension for politicians is injustice and will end up creating serious financial crisis in the affected states.
Further to this, Centre for Change Initiative, a civil society organisation, describes the proposed life pensions for political office holders as an imposition of the burden of their lifetime survival on innocent taxpayers.
The president of the group, Dr Joe Okei-Odumakin, insists that such pensions for lawmakers will take a toll on the welfare of the people.
Expressing concern on the development, Chairman, Lagos Civil Service Union, Mr Laide Bakare, advises that proposed laws in favour of pension for politicians ought to be discouraged.
“Whoever has served the people should leave honourably and go back to his job or other jobs; serving Nigeria for eight years and demanding a life pension is highly insensitive to the plight of Nigerians.
“Political office holders such as governors are contracted to do their assignments through elections and so, they should not enjoy pensions like regular civil servants,’’ he says.
Also, Director, Centre for Pension Rights Advocacy, Mr Takor Ivor, observes that the proposed life pension for political office holders is inappropriate.
He calls on the legislators at the federal and state levels to rather propose bills that can advance the country’s socio-economic development.
The Committee for the Defence of Human Rights, Lagos State Chapter, as well, calls on the public to rise up against the campaign for life pension for politicians.
“In any state where this is passed into law, the people of that state should rise and protest and the entire Nigerian masses should rise against such; it is a scam of the highest order.
Irrespective of the critics’ argument, concerned Nigerians observe that question as to whether or not life pensions should be granted to politicians is still being discussed among stakeholders in the South-South geopolitical zone of the country.
A lecturer in the Department of Economics, University of Calabar, Dr Peter Uwem, therefore, calls on state governors in Nigeria to refuse assent to any bill on life pension for politicians initiated by lawmakers.
“How can they ever imagine a life pension for themselves when some states cannot afford to clear the meagre amount of pensions and gratuities owed their civil servants?
“Any state governor that approves life pension for lawmakers is calling for crisis because what these politicians earn while in office is enough to take care of them.
“Some of them spend 12 years with jumbo allowances throughout, why then should they still be asking for life pension,’’ he asks.
“I see no reason why politicians who serve for a short period of time should be given life pension when compared to civil servants.
“Government should make political offices, especially the legislature to be a part time, this would be the best for our growing political nation, Mrs Esther Okon, a civil servant in Cross River, also observes.
Similarly, a pension fund manager, pleading anonymity, expresses dissatisfaction over moves by some legislators to make laws allowing political office holders in Nigeria to be entitled to life pensions.
He describes the proposal as obnoxious, noting that such pension bills, especially the one recently moved by legislators in Bayelsa, if passed into law, will further drain the country of its scarce resources.
A pensioner, Mr Forsebry Ere, observes that the move by the Bayelsa lawmakers to have life pension is uncalled for.
“The first thing to consider is that political office is not the regular 35-year civil service job or attaining 60 years of age in service before retirement.
“What should bother the lawmakers ought to be embarking on developmental projects such as primary healthcare and improvement on public schools, among others,’’ Ere says.
In his opinion, a civil servant in Bauchi, Mr Muhammad Ningi, explains that although the constitution mandated politicians to make laws, moving for life pension for political office holders is unpatriotic.
Instead of pushing for life pension for politicians, a pensioner in Yola, Bello Joseph, advises politicians, as representatives of the people, to impress it on government at all levels to settle the entitlements of pensioners.
However, retired staff of Dutse Local Government Education Department, Malam Muhammad Barau, has a different opinion.

 

Kayode Olaitan

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CROSIEC Deploys About 8,000 Personnel For LG Elections

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Ahead of the next Saturday’s rescheduled Local Government elections in Cross River, about 8000 personnel are said to have been deployed across the state to ensure the smooth conduct of the elections.
The Chairman of the Cross River State Independent Electoral Commission, Dr. Mike Ushie, who disclosed this in Calabar while
speaking on preparations by the commission, said they are ready for the elections and one hundred percent compliant with post COVID-19
elections guidelines recently released by the Independent National Electoral Commission as well as the National Centre for Diseases
Control.
He said: “Eight thousand personnel have been mobilised to cover the two thousand, two hundred and twenty-six polling units in the state.
There will be three personnel per pooling unit, five at the accreditation centres, five at the local government and ward coalition centres.
“Accreditation and voting will take place simultaneously and  in line with INEC guidelines, there will be two levels of queuing  and voters
will vote in batches while maintaining social distance.
“We had to make sure that we are on course and lives are protected. Luckily INEC released the procedure for post COVID-19 elections and I
must say that we are in full compliance with it. INEC said we have to provide hand sanitizers, face masks and we have adopted all the
procedures one hundred percent.
“ We have gone beyond INEC  and have gone ahead to procure hand sanitizers, hand washing containers, a good number of face masks  and
we are working seriously to ensure that the right thing is done”, he said.
He added that the commission has given sufficient notice for the elections and confirmed that five political parties will be participating in Saturday’s elections.
From FRIDAY NWAGBARA, Calabar.
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Ambassador Desmond Akawor Inaugurated As New Rivers State PDP Chairman

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The new Rivers State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Executive Council has been inaugurated in Port Harcourt.
Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly,  Mr Ikuinyi Ibani administered the oath of office on the new executives led by Ambassador Desmond Akawor.
In a charge, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike called on the new executives to work towards consolidating the gains of the immediate past Executive led by Bro Felix Obuah.
He commended immediate past Rivers State PDP Chairman,  Bro Felix Obuah for leading to victory .
He said: “We had challenges at the beginning, but that Executive was committed to service. Obuah has shown capacity to deliver.  It will not be easy for the new executives, but the new executives must start to prepare the party for the challenges ahead.
“Work hard to surpass the records of the past executives.  Working together is key, unity is key.”
Speaking further, Governor Wike said that the Rivers State Government will never condone criminality or any attempt to violate the law.
He said: “But for the steps that , the number of cases would have been more. What makes a leader is the ability  to be firm. I value life more than property.
“Since 2015, we have not demolished any property.  But, someone who was SSG superintended over the demolition of several properties.  Now the person is talking about the draconian process.
“My joy is that majority of Rivers people love what we are doing.”
Governor Wike added that from Information from the State Health Commissioner,  the State is likely to have more cases,  mostly oil workers.
National Chairman of PDP, Prince Uche Secondus congratulated the new Rivers State PDP Executive Committee,  advising them to work for the growth of the party.
Commenting on the fight against coronavirus,  Uche Secondus blasted the Federal Government for refusing to assist State Governments and provide direction for the country.
He said: “The Governors are working without help from the Federal Government.  But for God, the situation would have been worse.
“Governors are running from pillar to post. We must be grateful to Governor Wike for the initiative that he took. What the Governor has done has helped to drastically reduce the number of cases.
“Rivers State is lucky to have Governor Wike at this time of crisis .”
He said those who spread negative propaganda do so out of hatred.
New Rivers State PDP Chairman,  Ambassador Desmond Akawor thanked ththe leadership and members of the party for giving him the opportunity to serve.
He said God has used Governor Wike to rebuild a new Rivers State.  He saluted the resilience of PDP in weathering the storm.
Akawor assured that the new Executive will serve the party diligently.
Immediate Past PDP State Chairman,  Bro Felix Obuah said that the Executive Committee under his leadership led the party to victory  since 2015.
He said that the outgone Executives will continue to work for the party  to ensure future victory.
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Bode George Urges FG To Relax Lagos Lockdown

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A former Deputy National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olabode George has urged federal government to relax the lockdown it imposed on Lagos State as a result of COVID- 19 pandemic.
George, who made the call in a statement in Lagos, yesterday said the lockdown imposed since March 29 was adversely affecting livelihoods and bringing up security challenges.
He said though government intended to curb the spread of the virus with the lockdown, the directive had left many Nigerians hungry at home without palliatives.
The PDP chieftain noted that there must be a balance between curbing the spread of the virus and protecting livelihoods and asked the government to relax the lockdown while putting safety measures in place.
“Everywhere in Lagos is now locked down. The markets, banking halls, the local grocery shops, the supermarkets, the transportation services are all halted, frozen by the federal government directives since March 29.
“On the surface level, the federal government’s position is to ensure safety, prevent communal spread of the virus and banish this scourge from our shores.
“Lagosians have been staying at home for about a month now. In a largely informal economy where most of our people depend on daily wages, the burden of lack of income is devastating.
“There is a natural growing anger in Lagos as the most vulnerable are ravaged with hunger,” George said.

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