CSOs urge Rivers legislators to repeal law on governors’ retirement benefits
Civil society organisations in the Niger Delta region have urged the Rivers State House of Assembly to repeal the Governor and Deputy Governor Pensions and Fringe Benefits Act that obliges the state to build houses for them in any area of their choice in Rivers and Abuja.
The Niger Delta Civil Society Coalition (NDCSC) argued that the economic reality of the state has made the call imperative.
Chairman of NDCSC, Anyakwee Nsirimovu, told The Guardian that the lawmakers should take into cognisance the reason for their existence, which is to represent the collective interest of Rivers people.
“They should look at their constituencies and take the livelihood of their people into account. That bill must be repealed because our children are out of school and our hospitals are not working well.
“We still have children dying because of lack of proper care. Flood everywhere. We need resources to get these things done, and those resources are not available. These are the issues that affect the people,” he said.
According to him, it was irrational, immoral and devilish for governors to get outrageous pensions when vast majority of the people cannot feed properly.
Similarly, the chancellor of the International Society for Social Justice and Human Rights (ISSJHR), Dr. Jackson Omenazu, has described building a house for a former Rivers governor outside the state as outrageous.
“Such law is not in tandem with the current reality of the state. There are several tax-payers and civil servants in the state who do not have roof over their heads.
“In fact, one should expect that having risen to the height of a governor and you are still pensionable, building a choice for them in Abuja does not make any meaning; it is frivolous and such laws should be repealed.“We should not be encouraging such unreasonable expenditure from public funds. There are several Rivers people who need such money to feed and even train their children in school. You cannot continue to give to the haves, while the have-nots continue to wallow in abject poverty,” he said.
The Governor and Deputy Governor Pensions and Fringe Benefits Bill was signed into law on May 31, 2012. The law empowers the state government to build two houses for all the elected civilian governors of the state and their deputies, one in Rivers and another in Abuja in any area of their choice.
The Act states: “Any person who held office as an elected governor or deputy shall be entitled to the payment of pension at the rate equivalent to the annual basic salary of the incumbent governor or deputy governor and other benefit as provided by the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission.
“Any person duly elected as public office holder shall upon the successful completion of his term be entitled to 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.”
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