Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has condemned the N100 million pension bill just passed into law by the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, following prompting by Governor Godwill Akpabio, describing it “as immoral, unfair, unconstitutional, unreasonable, and a rip-off on a massive scale.”
“Akwa Ibom must be the only place on the planet where such pension scheme exists. The governor must now put Akwa Ibom ahead of his own personal bank balance by immediately withdrawing this grotesque bill,” the organisation said.
In the statement dated 27 May 2014, and signed by SERAP executive director Adetokunbo Mumuni, the organisation said that, “Nigerians should not be made to subsidise these bloated pensions and clearly undeserved perks. The governor obviously views disadvantaged Nigerians and poor pensioners according to Orwell’s Animal Farm dictum: ‘All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others’. Signing the bill into law will amount to a fundamental breach of the governor’s constitutional oath declaration to serve the interest of justice, common good, transparency and accountability.”
According to the organisation, “This so-called proposed legislation means that millions of Nigerian who continue to suffer from years of pervasive corruption and impunity of perpetrators will have to fund the massive and unjust pensions for Governor Godswil Akpabio and his deputy and others that will come after them.”
“SERAP is appalled by this apparently unfair and discriminatory law. There is absolutely no justification for such law at a time the pensions systems across the country are in poor shape, and pensioners continue to be denied the fruit of their labour. The governor cannot lawfully give to himself a steady stream of public funds for life at a time millions of pensioners including in Akwa Ibom face cut to their pension schemes and remain in poverty without any state support. This initiative obviously undermines the professed fight against corruption by the President Goodluck Jonathan government,” the organisation also said.
“SERAP calls on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to swiftly investigate the spending of public funds under the government of Governor Godswil Akpabio, and where there is evidence of corruption, to bring any suspected perpetrators to justice,” the organisation added.
The bill as passed sought a pension for life at a rate equivalent to the salary of the incumbent governor to former governors and ex-deputy governors. The law also provides for the former governor a provision for funds to employ a cook, chauffeurs and security guards at a sum not exceeding N5m per month and N2.5m for the deputy.
Under the proposed legislation, the former governor would also be entitled to a free medical services for his person and spouse at a sum not exceeding N100m per annum and N50m for former deputy governor. The bill also sought to provide for the former governor a befitting accommodation not below a five-bed room maisonette in either Abuja or Akwa Ibom for governor.
The bill also provided for yearly accommodation allowance of 300 per cent of annual basic salary for the deputy governor of Akwa Ibom. The former governor would also receive a severance gratuity of 300 per cent of annual basic salary as of the time the former leaves office among other things.