SERAP to Dickson: Reject life pension for Bayelsa lawmakers or risk being sued
A non-governmental organisation, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, has advised Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa to reject the proposed life pension bill by the leader of the State House of Assembly, Peter Akpe, and to prevail upon the House to immediately withdraw the bill.
A release signed by SERAP’s Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, noted that the House had, last week, passed a bill that would grant life pensions to speakers, deputy speakers and other members.
The release states, “Under the bill, speakers will receive N500,000 monthly, while deputy speakers will receive N200,000. Twenty-four other members will each get N100,000.
“The House is seeking life pensions for members similar to those applicable to former presidents, vice-presidents, governors and deputy governors across the country.”
SERAP argued that public officials have a legal commitment to discharge a public duty truthfully and faithfully; warning Dickson that, “Should you assent to the bill as proposed, SERAP will institute legal proceedings to challenge the legality of the legislation and ensure full compliance with constitutional provisions and Nigeria’s international anti-corruption obligations.”
SERAP added, “The bill amounts to an incorrect and improper performance of public functions. It’s clearly an abuse of legislative functions by the lawmakers.
“Rather than sponsoring bills that would improve access of children in Bayelsa to quality education, the lawmakers are taking advantage of their entrusted public positions to propose a bill to collect large severance benefits.
“It is estimated that hundreds of lawmakers will benefit from the life pension as proposed, which will invariably cost Bayelsa State at least N20m taxpayers’ money monthly. This amount will increase in subsequent years.”
SERAP expresses belief that the action by the lawmakers is entirely inconsistent and incompatible with the object and purpose of the UN Convention against Corruption, to which Nigeria is a state party and which implicitly prohibits large severance benefits for public officials such as members of Bayelsa State House of Assembly.
“The convention, which is binding on all states of the federation, specifically in paragraph 1 of Article 8, requires the lawmakers to promote integrity, honesty and responsibility in the management of public resources,” the release added.