Former Governor of Akwa Ibom State and Senate Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio, has teamed up with Senator Oluremi Tinubu, wife of the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in rejecting the latest move by the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, in enacting immunity and life pension for presiding officers of the National Assembly.
Ekweremadu, and other Senators had during the weekend, while on a-two day retreat on Constitution Review, proposed immunity and life pension for presiding officers of the National Assembly, after their tenure in office.
According to the Lawmakers, the presiding officers, who should enjoy life pension, are President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, Deputy President of Senate, Speaker of the House of Representatives and Deputy Speaker of House of Representatives.
The Lawmakers, also said the presiding officers in the legislature ought to enjoy immunity, since the executive and judiciary are enjoying it.
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Ekweremadu, who is also the Chairman, Senate Ad hoc Committee on the Review of 1999 Constitution, while speaking, noted that it was necessary for the presiding officers to enjoy such benefits.
He said, “This has nothing to do with an individual. It is about the institution.
“Let us not politicise it. Nobody elected the Chief Justice of Nigeria, but he enjoys pension. But if we cheapen our own institution, so be it. Let us not make this a personal thing”.
Senator Stella Oduah, who also supported the move said, “The executive enjoys it. Let us stand by our leaders.
“They should enjoy this benefit. They act on behalf of us. They are equal to the executive and judiciary and should therefore, enjoy the same benefits”.
In addition, Senator Ahmed Yerima said, after being elected by all the Lawmakers and their constituencies, Lawmakers should also enjoy pension.
He said, “Governors, who spend just four years enjoy it, so presiding officers should enjoy it too.’’
Meanwhile, the Senate Majority Leader, Senator Ali Ndume, not comfortable with the idea, clarified that the case of the State Governors and their deputies is different, as they are elected by the public.
He said, “But we elect our principal officers. To me, I believe that the benefits of the Office of the Senate President and other principal officers are too much. They are just one among equals.
“I am against any excessive privileges given to the Senate President or the Speaker.
“All of us were elected. If we are doing anything, it should be for all members of the National Assembly,” Ndume said.
Supporting Ndume’s claims, Senator Tinubu also rejected the amendment.
She said, “Principal officers drive fleet of cars, and they have other entitlements. They should not earn extra money when they leave office.
“In the last assembly, we in the minority tried to raise our voice against it.
“You are first, second and third among equals. Some of us do not even have cars, but principal officers have so many. I think we should drop that idea,” she said
Senator Akpabio, who has been a staunch supporter of his party’s stalwart Ekweremadu, and a loyal member of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, not comfortable with the idea, dropped party affinity to the amazement of Nigerians, while pegging his tent with Tinubu and Ndume, in opposing the suggestion.
He said, “The Governor of a State and the President, cannot stay in office for more than two terms. But a senator can stay in office for 35 years”.
Credit; Post Nigeria