Bayelsa State Governor, Seriake Dickson has declined assent to the bill seeking life pension for the state lawmakers as proposed by the state House of Assembly.
The bill had attracted a lot of public outcry following its passage by the state assembly. It was especially condemned by the opposition All Progressives Party, Civil Servants and Civil Society Groups.
Recall that the 24-member legislature comprising 22 Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, members had on April 24 passed the proposed pension bill for current and past members proposing a monthly pension of N100,000 for members while the Speaker and Deputy Speaker will be entitled to N500,000 and N200,000, respectively.
The state Commissioner for Information, Mr. Daniel Iworiso-Markson, said the governor had conveyed the decision to withhold assent to the Bill in a letter to the Speaker of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly on Monday.
He disclosed that the governor met with the Assembly members in his country home of Toru-Orua, where he explained his reason for declining assent.
According to him, the governor withheld assent to the bill on the ground that it was inconsistent with Section 124 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended.
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Dickson expressed the view that the State Assembly lacked the powers to expand the categories of public servants who should be entitled to pension.
The Governor said: “The provisions of this Bill 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.”