Scrapping Of Life Pensions For Governors In Abia State And Matters Arising

Scrapping Of Life Pensions For Governors In Abia State And Matters Arising

22nd March 2024, NewsOrient
Opinion, Column
By Emeka Nwosu, PhD.

The people of Abia State, and indeed all Nigerians of different hues, are gladdened by the exciting news that filtered out from the State on Tuesday to the effect that the Abia State House of Assembly has repealed the obnoxious law that granted former elected civilian Governors of the State and their Deputies unwarranted access to humongous resources and other trappings of grandeur in the name of pension packages just for serving the State for a period not exceeding four years.

The stupendous pension packages, in all the States where they were adopted by the Houses of Assembly, have continued to constitute a huge drain pipe on the collective patrimony of the people.

The bill that repealed the pension law was reportedly sponsored by the Majority Leader of the House, Hon. Okoro Uchenna Kalu, representing Arochukwu State Constituency of Abia State. The Pension law which sought to keep the former Governors and members of their household in endless luxury and opulence was enacted in 2001 during the tenure of former Governor Orji Uzor Kalu. The Law was cited as The Abia State Governors and Deputy Governors Pensions Law No 4 of 2001 and other Matters Connected Therewith.

Speaking after the repeal of the law by the House, the Speaker of the Abia House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Emmanuel Emeruwa stated that, among other merits, the repeal bill when assented to by Governor Alex Otti would ensure that the outrageous cost of governance is reduced and more resources now to be channeled towards the development of the State.

The past Governors who are to be affected by the repeal law are Senator Orji Kalu, Chief Theodore Ahamefule Orji and Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, and their Deputies. These persons served as Governors between 1999 and 2023 when the incumbent, Dr. Alex Chioma Otti, mounted the saddle.

The sponsor of the bill, Hon. Okoro Uchenna Kalu, justified the scrapping of the unpopular law by underscoring the fact that the enormous material benefits conferred on the past Governors were to the detriment of the development of the State. He could not imagine how a Governor after serving for only four years would be wallowing in stupendous riches at the expense of the State and her citizens, including retired senior Civil Servants who cannot access their pensions.

He said: “We did not amend the bill; we scrapped it completely. The bill concerns past governors who are not in active service receiving pensions and other entitlements after serving for four years.
“They are paid by the State every month; so we had to repeal it. So, it longer stands. When you are done with your tenure, just go home because nobody is paying you anything.

“We cannot have backlogs of pensioners who are not receiving payments, people in active service who are not being paid, and past governors and their deputies pocketing billions while the money is supposed to be for state development and the payment of civil servants.”

The repeal of this pensions bill is one of the greatest things that have happened to our State since the emergence of Dr. Alex Otti as the Governor of Abia State. Without mincing words, what the Abia House of Assembly has done under the guidance of Dr. Otti is simply revolutionary which is bound to have reverberating effects in other parts of Nigeria.

In many States where these pension laws for Governors are in place, humongous amounts of money are regularly expended on the welfare of the past governors and their families in addition to the provision of befitting mansions for them in Abuja and other places of their choice.

A typical pension package for a past governor includes ownership of three houses, one in his village, and the other in the State capital and the third one in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja. It also includes a minimum of four brand new SUVs, and huge allowances for the maintenance of the cars which are to be changed every four years. The package also includes the engagement of domestic staff and specified number of security personnel, including DSS operatives who provide protection to the past governor and his family members, all at the expense of the State. In addition, the past governor and his family members are entitled to periodic medical check-ups and attention in any hospital of his choice abroad.

A past governor also receives hundreds of millions of Naira as annual allowances. He and his family are also entitled to an annual vacation abroad. This is the kind of luxury these heartless governors structured for themselves and family members just for serving four years in government. This is nothing but unbridled greed and avarice that border on nothing but primitive capital accumulation.

By guiding the Abia House of Assembly to scrap this law, Governor Alex Otti has written himself into history as a selfless leader who is not propelled by crass materialism. Rather, he has shown himself as a man who is driven by the greater interest of the people. One can only imagine what Otti has saved the State from the repeal of this criminal law that was designed by the past governors to fritter our scarce resources on themselves for occupying the Government House for four years. The governors who packaged these outrageous laws were utterly greedy, vicious and wicked.

The freed resources which were feeding the greed of the former governors of the State can now be deployed by Governor Otti to provide the needed dividends of democracy to the people of Abia. We expect other States that are being similarly fleeced to follow in the footsteps of Abia House of Assembly and liberate themselves from the strangleholds of these political buccaneers.

Dr. Emeka Nwosu, a Political Affairs Analyst, writes from Umuahia.


~ NewsOrient