Posted by News Express | 19 June 2016 | 2,466 times
Some lawmakers on Saturday proposed life pension for presiding officers of the National Assembly after their tenure in office.
They made the proposal at a two-day retreat on Constitution Review organised by the Senate Ad hoc Committee on Constitution Review in Lagos State.
According to them, presiding officers who should enjoy life pension are President of the Senate, Deputy President of Senate, Speaker, House of Representatives and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives.
The Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, spoke in favour of the proposal, saying that principal officers of the two chambers should be entitled to life pension after their tenure.
Ekweremadu, who is the chairman, Senate Ad hoc Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution, stressed that it was necessary for the presiding officers to enjoy such benefits.
“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.
“But if we cheapen our own institution, so be it. Let us not make this a personal thing,” he said.
Senator Stella Oduah (PDP-Anambra) said there was no reason legislators should not enjoy such benefit when other arms of government enjoyed it
“The executive enjoys 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.
Senator Ahmed Sani (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,” Sani said.
However, the Leader of the Senate, Ali Ndume, 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.
Senate Minority Leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio also spoke against the suggestion.
“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,” Akpabio said.
Commenting, Senator Oluremi Tinubu said: “I think principal officers have had enough. Principal Officers drive a fleet of cars and they have other entitlements. They should not earn extra money when they leave office.
“Some of us do not even have cars, but principal officers have so many. I think we should drop that idea,” Tinubu said.
In another development, lawmakers voted against the continuous operation of joint account between Local and State Governments.
While deliberating on the matter, 24 lawmakers voted in favour of financial autonomy for local governments, while six lawmakers supported the continuation of the status quo.
According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the lawmakers noted that the outcome of the retreat would be presented to the Senate for deliberation before further steps could be taken.
•Photo shows Saraki and Ekweremadu.
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