Enugu Gubernatorial Pensions Scheme, a Public Socio-economic Leviathan

Enugu Gubernatorial Pensions Scheme, a Public Socio-economic Leviathan

By Ifeanyi Obute.

In 2017, a bill titled “gubernatorial pensions bill, 2015 and other matters connected therewith;” was passed into Law at Enugu State House of Assembly.

The Bill provided a lifetime Pension packages for governors and deputy governors of the State; starting from the old Anambra State. Consequently, the Bill captured Messrs. Jim Nwobodo, Okwesileze Nwodo, Chimaroke Nnamani (a serving Senator) and Sullivan Chime and other future Governors. However, the Bill excluded any impeached governor or deputy governor.

It is imperative to take note of the timing of the Bill. In 2017, Nigeria and the rest of the world were still writhing in the excruciating economic pains of a crashed crude oil price. Mind you, crude oil is Nigeria’s major source of revenue. A revenue that is traditionally distributed across Nigeria, in the form of State allocations. Hence, when this Bill was passed, Nigeria and Ndi Enugu were facing serious economic challenges.
Then, there was every logical and moral necessity of cutting down on unnecessary government expenses. Economic shrewdness and austerity was supposed to have been adopted. Yet, Enugu State Legislature, the supposed representative of the masses, chose to deny the masses, inorder to outrageously overfeed the few political elites of the State.

Amongst other senseless and unjustifiable largesse, the Bill secured a monthly Ten Million Naira (#10,000,000.00) Pension for all the ex governors. Also, a brand new house, a two-year change of official cars were included in the Bill.
It is very ridiculous that whilst poverty among the Enugu masses was at its peak, this Bill was brought up, deliberated upon, and ultimately passed as a Law in Enugu State Legislative floor.

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It is very unbelievable that when cutting down on the exorbitant cost of governance in Enugu State was the logical thing to have been done, additional “ANTI-PEOPLE” cost burden was added by this present administration.
It is very abysmal that when the existing social infrastructures are decaying, and no new ones are forthcoming, the State Government – Legislature and Executive, deemed it essential to engage in an exercise that would be perpetually enriching less than 10 men that are already rich, to the detriment of over 3million Ndi-Enugu.

It is quite mind boggling that when safe water is a perennial issue in the State, humongous gubernatorial pension packages is a more serious problem that elicited quick actions from the government of the day.
But what is most disturbing is the fact that Enugu State is among the few States in Nigeria that have

categorically made it clear that they don’t have any plans to revisit the anti-people Bill.

The moves by the duos of Lagos and Kwara State Governors to abrogate such Laws in their States, naturally elicited flurries of reactions from other State Governments. Most other Nigerian State Governments conceded to the anti-people nature of such Bills, especially where the entitlements are too outrageous. These other states pledged their plans of a near future review or even outright repealing of such Laws. But the likes of Enugu, Akwa Ibom, Sokoto, Adamawa etc, made it abundantly clear that there won’t be any nearby plans of retouching the Laws.

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Enugu State is found on the side of the few ones in the unpopular category. They are determined to keep dolling out outrageous largesse to ex governors, whilst the poverty rate among the common masses is hitting the roof top of close to 59%.

Eyes on Democracy of Nigeria (EDON), Enugu State chapter, Ndi-Igbo United Forum (Youth Wing), and the entire common people of the State are very bitter with the present status quo. We are not bitter because our ex governors are being taken care of, but we are infuriated with the total disregard of the welfare of the commoners.

In as much as our ex governors deserve to be taken care of, the common good of the entire State should not be sacrificed on the altar of such Bill.

Recurrent expenditure is always high, debt burden of the State is shooting up, mean poverty rate is rising, social amenities are deteriorating etc. All these indices ought to influence this current administration to quickly do the needful. It is never enough to be continually claiming that the State is in the Hands of God.

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In as much as we know that State House of Assemblies are mostly under the SPELL of the Executive Governors, but this particular one was a failure in a kind. Enugu State Assembly can still rise from the ashes of her ruins, and she can only do that by starting now to assert their Independence. By starting now to take actions that will clearly indicate on whose side they are – the side of the people!
Now is the time to start walking the talks…

Obute Ifeanyi writes from Enugu. He’s the South East coordinator of EDON. He’s a public affairs analyst, a sociopolitical commentator.

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