Constitution Review: Ekweremadu, others want life pension for National Assembly leaders

“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,”

– Ekweremadu

“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.
-Ndume

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.

According to them, presiding officers, who should enjoy life pension are President of Senate, Deputy President of Senate, Speaker, House of Representatives and Deputy Speaker of House of Representatives.

The deputy president of the Senate, 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.

Mr. Ekweremadu, who was the chairman, Senate Ad hoc Committee on review of 1999 constitution, said 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.

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, 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.

Also, the Senate Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio, 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,” Mr. Akpabio said.

According to Oluremi Tinubu, 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.

In another development, lawmakers voted against the continuous operation of joint account between local and state governments.
Twenty four lawmakers voted in favour of financial autonomy for local governments, while six lawmakers supported the continuation of the status quo.

(NAN)

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