Reoorter : CHUKWUBUIKE MADU & CHIDINMA UJOH
The Enugu State House of Assembly has stepped down the controversial life pension bill for former Governors and Deputy Governors in the state.
This followed a public condemnation of the content of the bill.
Speaking at the plenary, the Speaker of the House, Chief Edward Ubosi, said the bill was not the making of the Seventh Assembly as it had existed since 2007 but they merely wanted to repeal it and replace it with a 2021 version, noting that the 1999 Constitution as amended gave backing for such legislation.
Chief Ubosi said the stepping down of the bill would help his colleagues to go through the bill thoroughly to enable them to make adjustments where necessary.
The Speaker noted that even if the bill would be passed, it had to undergo serious amendments.
Earlier, the Leader of the House, Mr. Ikechukwu Ezeugwu, expressed shock at the level of protest that followed the presentation of the bill.
Mr. Ezeugwu pointed out that the House would be
guided by the opinions of their constituents in consideration of the bill and a public hearing would be held to allow the public to make their inputs.
Meanwhile, some residents of Enugu have applauded the Enugu State House of Assembly for stepping down the controversial bill.
Two of them, Mr. Victor Agu and Mr. Ikenna Okwu, expressed surprise that the lawmakers even planned to consider such a bill when there were more important issues that should be of concern to them.
“House members have heard the cries of the masses because there are so many challenges we are facing in Enugu State they should concern themselves with, including seeing to the payment of minimum wage to parastatals, local government workers and teachers; not talking about pension for retired governors that have amassed wealth for themselves when the masses are taking peanuts a salaries,” Mr. Agu fumed.
For Mr. Ikenna Okwu, “stepping down of the bill is a good thing they did, just because it is like adding a cup of water to somebody that is already having a drum of water in his house.
“Enugu State had not addressed water scarcity dealing with the masses; minimum wage for staff of primary school teachers have not been paid.”
Another respondent, Mr. Joseph Ekenta, noted that the stepping down of the contentious bill was a sign that the people could change things for the better through active participation in governance.
“If people have been speaking this way against wrong things in this Enugu State, I don’t think we will have been where we are today because the way people talked about this bill and the reaction of the government showed the voice of the people matter.
“We want more groups of people to be interested in what is happening in government,” Mr. Ekenta stated.
The contentious bill which only passed the first reading, had in addition to life pension for the past Governors and Deputy Governors, provided for an annual twelve million naira medical allowance for wives of the ex-leaders and three new vehicles for the former Governors and Deputy Governor every four years, which would be equvalent to the ones they used while in office.