Seriake Dickson, governor of Bayelsa state, has declined assent to the controversial bill passed by the state house of assembly seeking life pension for lawmakers.
Last week, the house had passed a bill that would grant life pensions to speakers, deputy speakers and other members.
Under the bill, which was proposed by Peter Akpe, leader of the house, former speakers will go home with N500,000 monthly, while ex-deputy speakers will receive N200,000. Twenty-four other former members are also expected to get N100,000 monthly.
The house also wants life pensions for members similar to those “applicable to former presidents, vice-presidents, governors and deputy governors across the country.”
But Daniel Iworiso-Markson, the state commissioner for information, in a statement, said the governor had conveyed his decision to decline assent to the bill in a letter to the speaker of the state’s house of assembly on Monday.
Dickson, it was learnt, held consultations with the assembly members in his country home of Toru-Orua, where he explained his reason for declining assent to the bill.
He said the bill was inconsistent with section 124 of the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria as amended.
The governor also argued that the state assembly lacked the powers to expand the categories of public servants who should be entitled to pension.
Dickson noted that there were lot of challenges facing the state and that if allowed to become law, Bayelsa would be the only state out of Nigeria’s 36 states to come up with such legislation.
He said he was guided in the decision by the principle that government should not be for a select class of the privileged in the society, and would not get rid of it over seven years into his administration.
“The lawmakers and indeed the Nigerian populace would attest to the fact that all decisions of his administration were guided by the strong urge to protect the public interest and promote the general good,” he said.
It would be recalled that the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) had earlier pleaded with the governor not to accept the proposed life pension bill.