By Christiana Ekpa
A sociopolitical group, Save Enugu Group (SEG), has issued a 21-day ultimatum to Enugu State House of Assembly to kill a Bill seeking for a law to provide life pension for former governors and deputy governors of Enugu State.
The group, in a statement signed by its national coordinator, Willy Ezugwu, said the bill which has passed its first reading must be killed immediately by the state lawmakers for the peace and tranquility in the state’s political arena to be sustained.
SEG said it’s already mobilising “conscious citizens, civil society groups and labour unions in the state to shut down Enugu State House of Assembly for as long as it will take to kill this most insensitive bill.”
According to the group, “it will be a betrayal of the trust the ordinary people of Enugu bestowed in their representatives serving as lawmakers to pass such outdated bill.
“It is shocking that while a state like Lagos, with high internally generated revenue (IGR) 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 when such a law will deplete the meager Enugu State revenue to the tune of over N2 billion annually.
“It’s more disheartening to discover that the proposed law is an executive bill.
“More worrisome is the provision in the bill for medical allowance not exceeding N12 million per annum for one surviving spouse of a former Governor, “provided that such spouse was married to the governor while in office”.
“What is more unfortunate in the bill is the provision seeking to mandate the state government to provide three vehicles for ex-governors and replace them every four years.
Also very insulting to the sensibilities of the suffering masses is the provisions that when a former governor or former deputy governor dies, the state government should make “adequate arrangement and bear the financial responsibility” for his/her burial;
“And that the state government should pay “a condolence allowance of a sum equivalent to the annual basic salary of the incumbent” Governor or Deputy Governor to his next of kin.
“This is a country where people that served their states as civil servants for over 30 years are struggling to get their terminal benefits while a governor or his deputy who may have spent eight years, or even less, will be buried at the state government’s expense and the next of kin paid thereafter.
“It is very unfortunate and we call on the Enugu State House of Assembly to kill the bill within the next 21 days or face the wrath of the citizens.
“In addition to other legal measures, we shall mobilise and guide all constituents in the state constituencies to immediately initiate the process of recalling their representatives at the state House of Assembly in the event that the lawmakers failed to kill the bill.
“To pass such a bill into law, the State Assembly must include a provision for all retired state civil servants to receive exactly same retirement benefits as the Governor and the deputy, including the exact condolence allowance to the next of kins of all retired civil servants in Enugu State”, the group demanded.