Bayelsa govt comes under fire over life pension for lawmakers

The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, HURIWA, has condemned the proposed life pension for members of past and present House of As...

The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, HURIWA, has condemned the proposed life pension for members of past and present House of Assembly members in Bayelsa State.

The House had last week passed a bill that would grant life pensions to speakers, deputy speakers and other members.

Under the bill, speakers will go home with N500,000 monthly, while deputy speakers will receive N200,000. Twenty-four other members will each get N100,000.

The House is seeking life pensions for members similar to those “applicable to former presidents, vice-presidents, governors and deputy governors across the country.”

But reacting, HURIWA, in a statement by its National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and national media affairs director, Miss Zainab Yusuf, described the policy as “evil and retrogressive”.

According to the group, the endorsement of the selfish and politically patronising policy in Bayelsa State could lead to widespread social crimes because of its manifest ill-intention and intrinsic abuse of public good.

The group therefore urged the Bayelsa state government to halt the decision or else the organised civil society groups would challenge it in the court of law.

HURIWA added that the law which is made retroactive is offensive to the fundamentals of law making process since laws ought not to be retroactive in nature.

”It is unthinkable that Bayelsa state government that should be forward looking and pro-poor because of the widespread impoverishment of its people by the criminal activities of multinational crude oil drilling firms over the last many decades which also left their environment devastated including the destruction of agro-allied businesses, is rather concerned about the elitist type of criminal syndicate which the newly endorsed state-wide pension scheme for Bayelsa state political office holders represent.

”Apart from the inherent ethical challenge that the Bayelsa state political pension portends, the policy is also a clear violations of chapters two and four of the constitution which obliges state governments to prioritize the overall public good far and above selfish pecuniary gains for the politicians.

”The idea behind aspirations to be elected to serve the people is not so that the elected officials could empty the lean state resources to quench their seemingly bottomless pit of pecuniary ambitions.

”The new political pension scheme offends the oath of office sworn to by these office holders because they have allowed their selfish pecuniary interests to override the public interests,” the statement added.

HURIWA also stated that the law was discriminatory since there is no provision for social welfare schemes for babies and the aged of Bayelsa state who are the segments of Bayelsa state that are among the most marginalised and vulnerable.

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