Senate President Bukola Saraki yesterday sought an end to payment of pensions to former governors and their deputies who hold public or political offices. Specifically, Saraki implored state Houses of Assembly to take a cue from Kwara State by passing their own versions of the bill suspending payment of pensions to former governors and deputy governors. The Kwara lawmakers had unanimously adopted the motion for the passage of the bill, which was moved by the deputy House Leader, Segilola Abdulkadir.
In a statement he issued yesterday, Saraki who governed Kwara State between 2003 and 2011commended Speaker of the state Assembly, Ali Ahmad and the entire members of the House for working towards passing the bill, noting that he influenced the action of the lawmakers.
In the statement made available to LEADERSHIP, the Senate president said, “I am pleased that following my conversation with Kwara speaker, Rt Hon Ali Ahmad, two months ago, the bill to suspend the payment of pension to former governors and their deputies when they hold a political or public office was passed into law yesterday by the Kwara House of assembly.
“Moving forward, it is my hope that other state assemblies take a cue from Kwara state and pass similar pieces of legislation into law”. Apart from Kwara, other states like Akwa Ibom, Lagos, Kano, Katsina, Rivers, Gombe and Zamfara have enacted laws to provide pension to former governors and their deputies.
In Akwa Ibom, for instance, the law empowers the state government to spend about N200 million annually on the former governor, Godswill Akpabio, even when he is earning salary as a Senator. Nigerians, including civil society organisations like Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) have kicked against the pension for former governors.
SERAP has been in court since October 2017 to stop former governors, now serving as Senators and ministers, from receiving double pay and life pensions.
…Denies Boycotting APC NEC Meeting
Meanwhile, contrary to speculations that he and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, boycotted the All Peoples Congress (APC) National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting on Tuesday, Saraki said yesterday that his absence at the meeting was not deliberate.
Speaking through his the senior special assistance on media and publicity, Yusuph Olaniyionu, the Senate president said he was at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) on Tuesday. “He (Saraki) couldn’t be in two places at the same time. He should not be expected to be in the CCT and at the APC‘s NEC meeting. In other words, he didn’t boycott his party’s NEC meeting’’, Olaniyionu said.
A staff of the CCT who did not want his name mentioned also confirmed that Saraki who was attending a seminar on ‘’Child Trafficking’’ in Benin, Edo State on Monday attended the CCT for trial on Tuesday for false asset declaration charges brought against him by the federal government.
“As a matter of law governing CCT trial, an accused must always be present in the court otherwise there won’t be proceeding on the matter concerned’’. The Code of Conduct Tribunal on Tuesday adjourned until March 8 for the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, and the federal government to adopt their final written addresses in respect of Saraki’s trial on three charges of false assets declaration.
Although the Danladi Umar-led CCT had earlier on February 6, 2018, fixed Tuesday for parties to adopt their addresses at the resumed hearing of the case on Tuesday, Saraki’s defence team sought an adjournment to enable them to file a reply to the Federal Government’s written address.
Saraki’s lead counsel, Chief Kanu Agabi (SAN), said he was only served with the prosecution’s final written address after the close of work on Monday. The tribunal chairman subsequently adjourned the matter till March 8 when the defence is expected to have filed their response to the prosecution’s address. On his part, Dogara, according to a source in the House of Representatives, arrived APC’s NEC meeting venue when President Muhammadu Buhari was already seated and he had to turn back.
‘”As a matter of protocol, Dogara turned back when he learnt that Buhari was seated. He got there late because he didn’t adjourn sitting of the lower legislative chamber on time, unlike the deputy Senate president, Ike Ekweremadu, who adjourned plenary of the Senate very early on Tuesday’’, the source who did not want his name in print told our correspondent.
Party Will Come Out Stronger From Crises – el- Rufai
Meanwhile, Kaduna state governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai has said the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) will come out stronger from its current crises. He also expressed confidence in the ability of the Bola Ahmed Tinubu-led reconciliation committee to resolve the internal crises plaguing the APC. The governor spoke in Ilorin, Kwara State capital at the first public lecture organised by AlHikmah University, Ilorin.
Governor el-Rufai declared that the major opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has been totally annihilated as a brand. He added that the APC has no credible opposition in PDP, saying APC’s opposition is wit. He stated that more revelations concerning the PDP’s 16 years misrule would come to the fore before the 2019 general elections.
The governor said, “The APC is a miracle; we are a party that is just five years old. We are a miracle. We are truly a 21st century miracle. A party that was formed a year to the election and ejected a party that had rule for 16 years is a miracle. We will solve our problems and we will win the next elections, even in more states, because we are capable of solving our problem and the other party is so disorganized.
“If you look at the Nigerian political environment, the APC has no opposition. PDP is totally destroyed as a brand. We have no effective opposition. The opposition with APC is within APC.
“We have people that are unhappy. There are many unhappy people, some of them legitimately. There are some disgruntled people that are unhappy without basis and we also have rascals and troublemakers who think politics is rascality and to each one, there is a different solution.
He continued: “The president has established a committee under Asiwaju (Bola Ahmed Tinubu) to reconcile. The president recognizes that there are people that have worked for the success of the party and they have not been adequately recognized. There is the need to recognize those people, apologise and do something and he said ‘Asiwaju go and do it’.
There are people like that. For those ones there is no solution. They will remain in opposition until you find a way to annihilate them politically. There are rascals. They do rebel so that you will negotiate with them. Well, you can keep negotiating depending on the level of rascality. You can choose your rascality and I will say I am wiping you out of the political map.”
We Did Not Expect Total Support For Tenure Elongation – Oyegun
Meanwhile, national chairman of the governing APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, has said that expecting a hundred per cent support for the tenure elongation for the National Working Committee (NWC) and state chairmen of the party for another one year was rather impossible.
He noted that it is natural for people to speak against one-year tenure elongation granted his leadership and others by the National Executive Committee (NEC).
APC NEC had in its meeting on Tuesday voted in favour of the tenure elongation for all the executives of the party at all levels by 12 months.
Mixed feelings, however trailed the decision, with some party members speaking against NEC’s decision.
But when asked about the issue during a brief interactive session with joiurnalists yesterday in his office, Oyegun said such a decision was not new in APC.
He said: “Well, I don’t want to talk on this sensitive political issue. Suffice to say that whatever is happening, naturally there will be contrary views. So, it will be so difficult if you come out with a total 100 per cent unanimity but I think the reasons for not wanting to hold some of these elective congresses this year is very clear.
“We have such a mighty work to do this one year and each one has potential of causing crisis. It has always been anyway. Once there is an election it always creates its own issues”.
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