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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Ortom Propose Life Time Pension Bill, To Care For Former Governors, Deputies

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After a not so pleasant eight-year term, Governor Samuel Ortom, on his way out, is proposing an outrageous pension bill for former governors and deputies in Benue state. The bill which is pending before the state house of assembly, seeks to give ex-governors four new cars every four years, an equivalent of governors’ monthly salary and annual vacation abroad.
Even the title of Ortom’s bill gives it out as a deliberate move to further cripple the economy of Benue state as it seeks to impose on the state, the burden of managing all those who have served as either governor or deputy, in perpetuity.
Titled, ‘A Bill for a Law to make Provisions for the Maintenance of Former Governors of the State and their Deputies and for Other Matters Connected Thereto’, the piece of legislation, if passed into law, will no doubt take a huge toll on the finances of the state.
Intended to have a retroactive effect, the bill is expected to take effect from 1999 and hence will cover former governors George Akume, Gabriel Suswam and Samuel Ortom just as it will for their deputies: the late Ogiri Ajene; Steven Lawani and Benson Abounu.
“Section 2(a)(i) makes provision for the payment to the former governors of a monthly ‘stipend’ equivalent to the ‘the salary’ of a sitting/incumbent governor.
“Section 2(a)(ii) makes provision for the payment to all former deputy governors of a monthly ‘stipend’, equivalent to the ‘the salary’ of a sitting/incumbent deputy governor. “Section 2(b) provides for the building of a permanent residential accommodation in any town ‘of their choice’ by the State in Nigeria.
“Sections 2(c) and (h) provide for the provisions of 4 new cars every 4 years for the former governors and 2 new cars every 4 years for the former deputy governors whose cars shall be serviced and maintained at the expense of the State.
“Section 2(d) and (e) provide for 6 personal staff for the former governors and 3 for the former deputy governors to be paid for by the State.
“Section 2(f) provides for 24 hours security surveillance and guard for all former governors and their deputies at their direction.
“Section 2(g) provides for free medical treatment for them, their spouses and at least 4 children under the age of 18.
“Section 4 entitled former governors to 2 vacations abroad annually and the former deputy governor to 1 vacation abroad.”
Curiously, the bill was designed in such a way that not only are the entitlements for life, the expenses are to be charged on the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the state and are to take priority over other expenses like salaries, pensions and gratuity of the citizen.
Why Governor Ortom will contemplate this bogus pension payment in the face of the state’s perilous finances, in our considered opinion, defies logic.
As a newspaper, we are alarmed at the fact that Governor Ortom is at home with the idea of pension for ex-governors even when he has done practically nothing to justify his eight-year sojourn as the state governor. More disagreeable, in our opinion, is the fact that this proposition is coming at a time most workers and pensioners who have put in years of active and productive service for the state, are being owed salaries.
Here is a governor who, owing to his ineptitude, the state is owing teacher’s salary arrears running into months, a governor that served eight years without any legacy project to show, having no qualms contemplating this piece of legislation. To say this is difficult to explain is an understatement.
After years of active service, retired workers in Benue as is the case with most states, are slumping and dying in queues waiting for their miserable stipends to be paid, yet here we have a governor thinking of an outrageous pension for governors.

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