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Group protests against bill for life pension for ex-govs, deputies in Enugu

 The South Saharan Social Development Organization (SSDO), an NGO, on Tuesday protested against the bill seeking for life pension for ex-governors, their deputies and their wives in Enugu State.

The proposed bill by the Enugu State House of Assembly recommends an annual basic salary and 300 per cent of the current annual basic salary as a housing allowance.

This bill, which equally bestows the sum of N12 million per annum as ‘medical allowance’ for the surviving spouse of the governor, had already scaled through the first reading at the state House of Assembly.

The NGO, which peaceful protest cut across major roads in Enugu metropolis, held placards baring only one inscription, which is: “No to Political Life Pension’’.

Speaking at the state House of Assembly, the Executive Director of SSDO, Dr Stanley Ilechukwu, said that the NGO joins other well meaning citizens of the state to condemn “this egregious Bill.

According to him, it is a needlessly exorbitant gift for already well-compensated service to the government.

“We draw the attention of the state House of Assembly to far more important issues in need of measured, responsible legislation, including the scarcity of water and the WASH Bill still awaiting second reading.

“The current Life Pensions Bill is insensitive and ill-timed in light of the increase of petrol pump price, electricity tariffs, and food expenses causing untold suffering to the people of Enugu, with no relief in sight.

“Furthermore, we remind the Honourable members that similar Laws have been repealed by their counterparts in Lagos, Zamfara, and Kwara States.

“One wonders why Enugu State would buck this commendable precedent and do the reverse.

“We, therefore, urge the Speaker and members of the House of Assembly to reconsider and to junk the Bill in its entirety,’’ he said.

The SSDO boss noted that taxpayers are already under enormous strain from the increased cost of living and do not need the added burden of unjustifiable pensions to retired executives.

“It is our hope that the representatives will do what is right for the people of Enugu State that have entrusted them with their mandate,’’ he said.

Responding, the Speaker, Enugu State House of Assembly, Chief Edward Ubosi, said that the Bill had been step down by the house.

Ubosi noted that the lawmakers would always represent the interest of the good people of the state and “we have decided to suspend action on the bill’’.

According to him, as lawmakers, we assure the people of the state quality representation that will definitely add value to their lives and livelihood.

Over 100 members of SSDO; other members of the civil society organisation and concerned members of the state joined the protest that lasted for three hours.

It would be recalled that other costs built up in the Bill included the provision of three cars to be replaced every four years and security for the ex-governor and deputy, all at the expense of the state government.

The Bill also provides for free medical services for the ex-governor and spouse, despite the provision for medical allowance.

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