Most Nigerians are opposed to a proposal by the Senate Committee on Constitution Review for life pension and immunity for National Assembly leaders, a PREMIUM TIMES’ poll has shown.
The poll, which ran for 24 hours between June 21 and June 22, was conducted on two social media platforms – Facebook and Twitter – via this newspaper’s official accounts.
The respondents were asked, “Do you support life pension and immunity for lawmakers?”
They were provided with three options – A – Yes, B – No and C – I don’t care.
Poll Results on Twitter
In 24 hours, 1,442 Twitter users responded, a vast majority negatively. Of the total figure, 1,326 persons –representing 92 per cent – chose “no”.
Only four per cent, that is 58 respondents, supported the proposal for life pension and immunity for legislative leaders, namely senate president, deputy senate president, speaker and deputy speaker.
Another four per cent selected “I don’t care”.
Poll results on Facebook
More than four thousand Facebook users who follow PREMIUM TIMES commented on the post. However, most respondents did not choose between the three options. They merely expressed their views regarding the question, and majority were opposed to the proposal.
Alasan Charles, wrote, “NO. The civil servant who works for 8 hours Monday to Friday suffers to get his wages. Despite all that, he still suffers to get his pension, sometimes dies on the line waiting for that pension. Politicians are all thieves. The Awolowos and co left legacies. What legacies are they (contemporary leaders) living behind?”
“They also want life pension for their principal officers, some of whom are already on life pensions from their states,” Ibrahim Umar Sani commented. “Everything they do or ask for is all about themselves and never in the interest of the Nigerian people. Again they want immunity from prosecution for all of them even though their job is part-time and they do not deal directly with the public.”
“It’s for the institution”
Members of the Senate Committee on Constitution review raised the proposal during their retreat in Lagos over the weekend.
“This has nothing to do with an individual. It is about the institution. Let us not politicise it. Nobody elected the chief justice of Nigeria, but he enjoys pension,” deputy senate president and chairman of the committee said. “But if we cheapen our own institution, so be it. Let us not make this a personal thing.”
Stella Oduah (PDP-Anambra) said there was no reason why legislators should not enjoy such benefit when other arms of government enjoyed it.
“The executive enjoy it. Let us stand by our leaders. They should enjoy this benefit. They act on behalf of us.
“They are equal to the executive and judiciary and should therefore, enjoy the same benefit,’’ she said.
Ahmed Yerima (APC-Zamfara), who also spoke in favour of the suggestion, said after being elected by all the lawmakers and their constituencies, lawmakers should enjoy pension.
“Governors, who spend just four years enjoy it, so presiding officers should enjoy it too,” Mr. Yerima said.
However, the leader of the Senate, Ali Ndume, and his Minority counterpart, Godswill Akpabio spoke against the proposal.
“The case of the state governors and their deputies is different. They were elected by the public.
“But we elect our principal officers. To me, I believe that the benefit of the office of the senate president and other principal officers is too much. They are just one among equals.
“I am against any excessive privileges given to the senate president or the speaker. All of us were elected. If we are doing anything, it should be for all members of the National Assembly,” he said.
“The governor of a state and the president cannot stay in office for more than two terms. But for a senator, he can stay in office for 35 years,” Mr. Akpabio said.
Oluremi Tinubu also suggested that idea of life pension for lawmakers be dropped.
“I think principal officers have had enough. Principal Officers drive fleet of cars and they have other entitlements. They should not earn extra money when they leave office.
“In the last assembly, we in the minority tried to raise our voice against it. You are first, second and third among equals.
“Some of us do not even have cars, but principal officers have so many. I think we should drop that idea,” Mrs. Tinubu said.