Kano Assembly passes life pension bill for speaker, deputy

The Kano State House of Assembly yesterday passed a life pension bill for its speaker and deputy speaker after the proposal scaled a third reading.

The Pension Rights of Speaker and Deputy Bill 2019 gives the presiding officers the privilege to earn life benefits following the expiration of their tenure. In addition, the duo would enjoy medical trips once in 12 months and choice vehicles every four years.

The package however comes with a clause: the prospect of the luscious fruit vanishes immediately the principal officer is impeached.

The bill states: “There shall be paid pension to person(s) who held office as speaker and deputy speaker equal to the emoluments of a serving speaker and deputy speaker, provided that either the speaker or the deputy do not hold any paid elective or selective appointments.

“Any person duly elected as speaker or deputy speaker shall, on completion of his term, be entitled to a grant of pension for life by the state, provided that such person was not removed from office through impeachment by members of the House of Assembly.

“Where the speaker or deputy vacates office before the expiration of the term of his office, not as a result of impeachment, he shall be paid pension pro-rata the number of years he spent in relation to his tenure of office.”

The bill reads further: “Where the speaker or deputy speaker dies in office before the expiration of the term of his tenure, he shall be paid pension pro-rata the number of years he spent in relation to his tenure of office.

“There shall be provided for the speaker and the deputy speaker a brand new vehicle to be bought by the state government every four years. There shall be provided for the speaker and the deputy speaker medical expenses either home or abroad depending on the nature of the illness.”

In 2018, the Assembly rejected a similar bill seeking life pensions for governor and deputy governor. Former Speaker and member representing Fagge Constituency, Abdullahi Atta, had led the argument that the idea was economically unsustainable.

Should Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje decline assent, he would be toeing the line of his Bayelsa State counterpart, Seriake Dickson, who recently turned down a bill seeking life pension for the state’s serving and former lawmakers.

The proposal had drawn widespread condemnation from members of the public who accused the legislators of abuse of power.

While rejecting the bill, Dickson explained: “The provisions granting pension to members of Bayelsa State House of Assembly and the extension of same to former members of the Assembly and Bayelsa indigenes who served in the Old Rivers State House of Assembly is inconsistent with Section 124 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended.

“I am not convinced about the legality of this bill, which seeks to expand the categories of persons entitled to pension. While I agree that the Assembly can adjust the quantum of pension payable to persons entitled to pension, I am not convinced that the House has powers to add to the categories of pensionable public officers.

“Evidently, there is no record of any other state in this country that has expanded the categories of pensionable public officers to include lawmakers. I do not agree that Bayelsa, which is coping with all the myriads of issues and challenges, with our low Internally Generated Revenue base and the unpredictable oil economy, should be the first to initiate this.”

Meanwhile, an alleged plot to whittle down the influence of Emir of Kano Muhammadu Sanusi II took a new twist yesterday as the state’s legislators adopted a bill seeking to upgrade four new first-class emirs from among select district heads.

The emir, a former Central Bank governor had in the past made statements allegedly critical of the Ganduje-led administration. On Monday, the state’s Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption Commission also summoned the emir to appear before it over charges of alleged financial misappropriation.

The bill, which scaled through the first reading, was presented by the House committees on judiciary and local government and chieftaincy affairs, and hopes to amend the 1984 Chieftaincy Affairs Laws.

The amendment will authorise a status upgrade of four districts into full emirate councils.

A group of lawyers under the aegis of Mallam Ibrahim Salisu Chamber had on Monday filed a petition before the Assembly, demanding the creation of Rano, Karaye, Bichi and Gaya emirate councils.

The move, according to Salisu, would spread development to other parts of the state. “If you visit Jigawa State, you see Dutse, Ringim, Kazaure, Gumel and Hadeija emirate councils operating with equal powers and authority. A visit to each of the emirates gives a clear picture of human and capital development unlike Kano where everything is concentrated in the centre,” he said.

Presenting the joint committees report at plenary, Majority Leader, Alhaji Baffa Danagundi, said the recommendation followed widespread consultation with stakeholders and policy makers amid overwhelming support for the upgrade.

(The Guardian)