Enugu House of Assembly has stepped down the controversial life pension bill for former governors, their deputies and spouses.
The stepping down of the bill followed public outcry about the jumbo packages contained in it for the beneficiaries.
The bill sought to appropriate at least 900 per cent of a governor’s annual salary as his monetary entitlements every year, after leaving office.
The wife of the governor would also have N12 million as annual medical allowances provided she was married to the governor while in office.
Apart from the N12 million provided for a former governor’s wife as annual medical allowance, both ex-governor and ex-first lady would also receive free medical services until death.
The bill guarantees to cover almost any possible major expenses an ex-governor could incur in his or her life, including financial responsibility for burial.
Its Section 6 states: “Where a former governor or former deputy dies, the state government shall make adequate arrangements and bear the financial responsibility for his burial.
“It shall also pay a condolence allowance of a sum equivalent to the annual basic salary of the incumbent to the next of kin.’’
Section 4 provides for “such other gratuity or allowances as may be provided by any other law” as may be entitled to a former governor other than what was stated in the bill.
In addition to the lifetime annual basic salary (ABS) for an ex-governor, there would also be a house maintenance allowance, an annual salary for five domestic staff and a vehicle allowance, each valued at 300 per cent of the ABS.
It provides for three vehicles for the past governors, to be replaced every four years as well as a personal assistant on salary Grade level 14.
There are also similar provisions for former deputy governors who would get 200 per cent of their ABS each for house allowance, vehicle allowance and annual salary for three domestic staff.
A former deputy governor would also get two vehicles, to be replaced every four years, free medical services for himself and his wife as well as N6 million medical allowance for the latter.
As soon as the bill passed through the first reading at the House of Assembly last Thursday, the Save Enugu Group, a socio-political group issued a 21-day ultimatum to the House of Assembly to “kill” it.
The group coordinator, Willy Ezugwu, said in a statement that the lawmakers must “kill” the bill immediately for peace to be in the state.
Mr Ezugwu said the group was mobilising citizens, civil society groups and labour unions in the state to protest against the 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 said.
The Speaker of the House, Edward Ubosi, during plenary on Tuesday, announced the stepping down of the Bill.
Mr Ubosi said the stepping down of the Bill would help his colleagues to thoroughly go through it to enable them delete as well as add necessary sections to it.
The speaker said the public should have allowed the lawmakers to study the bill, which just passed through the first reading.
He said former governors serving as senators would not benefit from the pension scheme, while the spouse of the former governors would also not benefit from the scheme since the Constitution did not recognise the spouses.
Earlier, the Leader of the Assembly, Ikechukwu Ezeugwu, expressed shock at the level of protest that followed the presentation of the Bill. Mr Ezeugwu said the protest was not necessary.
The leader said 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, however, said 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.
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