The Lagos State House of Assembly has introduced a bill seeking to provide lavish post-retirement benefits to the Speaker and Deputy Speaker, with proposals for extravagant life pension, accommodation, security and medical cover for the two officials and their families.
The bill is seeking to amend the state’s Public Office Holder Law of 2007 which already provides those benefits to past governors and their deputies.
The existing law was pushed through by Ahmed Tinubu who was governor between 1999 and 2007.
The lawmakers now want to extend the largesse to themselves, and the amendment seeks to insert the words “and includes the Speaker (and) the Deputy Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly” after “State” in the interpretation of “Public Office Holder”.
The move is coming as the All Progressives Congress, APC, the ruling party in the state, rallies widespread support as it seeks to defeat the Peoples Democratic Party at the federal level, with a pledge to drastically cut down the cost of governance.
According to the bill “A Law to Amend the Law to Provide For the Payment of Pensions and Other Benefits to Public Office Holders in Lagos State and For Connected Purposes,” a copy of which was made available to PREMIUM TIMES, the Speaker, as well as his Deputy, will be receiving 100 percent of their annual basic salary as pension.
The sum is to be reviewed every five years or when there is salary review of the political office holders by the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission.
The bill also aims to provide both officers with one car each and one residential house each at any location of their choice in Lagos as well as free medical treatment.
The law holds that any person who held office as an elected governor or deputy governor is entitled to an annual basic salary equal to 100 per cent of the annual salary of the incumbent governor or deputy-governor of Lagos State, subject to review every five years or salary review by the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission in line with section 210 (3) of the constitution as amended in 2011.
According to the law: “Any person duly elected as public office holder shall upon the successful completion of his term be entitled to a grant of pension for life by the state; Provided that such a person shall not be entitled to a grant of pension under this law if he was removed from office by the process of impeachment or for breach of any provision of the constitution.’’
The bill also follows a recent amendment to the Nigerian Constitution allowing the Senate President and deputy, Speaker of the House of Representatives and his deputy, to enjoy life pensions and other premium perks.
Those benefits were only available to past presidents and Chief Justices of the Federation.
The amendment to the Constitution emanated from the two chambers, and has been approved by more than 24 states assembly, effectively making it law.
Several Nigerian governors have also perfected secret laws in their respective states, granting billions of naira worth of benefits for themselves and their families when they leave office.
A Lagos based Constitutional lawyer, Jiti Ogunye, described the move by the Lagos State House of Assembly as “insensitive and irresponsible”.
“They are not taking into account the vast issue of the prohibitive cost of governance that the political party in charge of Lagos State claims it want to prune down,” Mr. Ogunye said.
“The legislature in this political environment can claim they want to follow what is practised elsewhere, I mean the issue of congressmen being on life pension. But that is still a controversial issue in America.
“However, the argument against that is that political officers are not career public servants, like civil servants who gain employment and work for their entire life before they retire.
“How could politicians who begged the electorates for votes get into that office and start dreaming of how to pay themselves for life?”
Mr. Ogunye said that Lagosians have a duty to stop this kind of “legislative rascality”, noting that the legislature ought to have revisited the Public Office Holder Law introduced by the executive and scrap it.
“If they are not able to curtail the excesses of the executive, they should not add salt to injury by saying that what is good for the goose is good for the gander
“What they are doing is engaging in statutory stealing, using the law to sanctify official stealing. That is not why they are there. And what are they doing to be entitled to life salary?”
According to Debo Adeniran, Executive Director of Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, CACOL, Lagosians should have risen up when the Public Office Holder Law was signed in 2007.
“The thing about bourgeoisie politics is the capacity of politicians to make more than enough money for themselves,” said Mr. Adeniran, whose organization kicked against the law in 2007.
“We have always advocated for part-time legislature and for politicians to leave all the requisites of office after their tenure.
“But if Lagosians had tolerated this at the level of the executive, then there is no moral standing to say that the law shouldn’t include other arms of government.”
Details of new bill
Highlights of the existing Lagos State Public Office Holder Law include:
Annual basic salary: 100 percent of annual basic salaries of the incumbent governor and deputy.
Accommodation: One residential house in Lagos and another in FCT for the former governor; one residential house in Lagos for the deputy.
Transport: Three cars, two back-up cars and one pilot car for the ex-governor, to be replaced every three years; two cars, one back-up car and one pilot car for the deputy, also to be replaced every three years.
Furniture: 300 percent of annual basic salary every two years.
House maintenance: 10 percent of annual basic salary.
Domestic staff: Cook, steward, gardener and other domestic staff who shall be pensionable.
Medical: Free medical treatment for ex-governor and deputy and members of their families.
Security: Two SSS operatives, one female officer, eight policemen (four each for house and personal security) for the ex-governor; one SSS operative and two policemen (one each for house and personal security) for the deputy.
Personal Assistant: 25 percent of annual basic salary.
Car maintenance: 30 percent of annual basic salary.
Entertainment: 10 percent of annual basic salary.
Utility: 20 percent of annual basic salary.