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Lagos lawmakers debate bill to stop pension for ex-governors, deputies

  The bill provided for the provision of houses in Lagos and Abuja for former governors and their deputies among other benefits   A bill to stop the payment of pension to former governors and their deputies in Lagos State has passed the second reading in the Lagos House of Assembly.   The bill was submitted to the House of Assembly on November 20, 2020, by Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the state governor.   With  the bill, Mr Sanwo-Olu seeks an amendment to the Payment of Pension Law (2017), a move to stop huge amounts paid to former governors and their deputies.   The second reading of the bill held on Monday and was presided over by the Speaker of the House, Mudashiru Obasa.   Largesse   At least 24 states across Nigeria enacted laws providing generous pensions to their former governors and their deputies.   In Lagos, for instance, the two elected officials are entitled to houses in Abuja and Lagos, six new cars every three years, 100 per cent of the incumbent governor’s basic salary (for the governor), and free healthcare for their family members, among others.   If enacted, the bill will scrap payment of these benefits to former governors in the state, including Bola Tinubu, the national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC).   Second Reading   Several arguments arose from the second reading of the bill by members of the House, with some in support of the bill.   Rotimi Abiru, representing Shomolu II, said the “The public office holder (Payment of Pension Law 2007)” should be amended rather than repealed.   “For a person who has served as chief executive of a state, I do not think it is nice denying them of their benefits.   “I can appreciate that some of them move to other appointments. For these people, there can be a caveat. But for those who serve in that capacity and do not have any other thing to do after office, it may not be something elaborate, but something may be coming to them periodically,” Mr Abiru said.   Speaking on the bill, Oluyinka Ogundimu, representing Agege 2, said the bill puts into consideration the country’s current economic challenges.   Mr Ogundimu said the bill should be amended in a way that will not negatively affect the security the public officials, adding that if the original law is repealed, it would mean withdrawing all security agents and domestic staff earlier attached to them.   The lawmaker argued that governors and their deputies “should be made to enjoy some benefits no matter how little, and should include retaining their security agents and domestic staff”.   Gbolahan Yishawu, representing Eti-Osa 2 and the Chairman, Committee on Economic Planning and Budget, said the bill is timely as Lagos State is “not very rich.”   Mr Yishawu said his position in the committee on economy had given him the opportunity to check the finances of the state, “and it is time the state begins to look inward in relation to cost of governance”.   Meanwhile, Tobun Abiodun, a lawmaker representing Epe 1, said a repeal of the pension law will give room for corruption in office, and especially when public officials know they have no benefits to enjoy after leaving office.   Other lawmakers also supported an amendment of the pension law, instead of a repeal. Rounding off the reading, Mr Obasa, the speaker of the house, said repealing the law in totality would expose former governors and deputies to security challenges.   “I don’t think we should trash it in totality,” he said.   The speaker gave the bill to the House Committee on Establishment for examination and gave them them two weeks to submit a report.
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