The continued agitation for immunity from prosecution and lifetime pension for presiding officers of the National Assembly after their tenure in office is annoying and ill-timed.
The Senate began moves to effect these self-serving changes in the 1999 constitution on June 14, 2016 when it passed 13 bills for second reading. It is in continuation of that process that a two-day retreat was embarked upon by the Senate Ad hoc Committee on Constitution Review in Lagos between Friday, June 17 and Saturday.
Those lined up to enjoy life pension are the Senate President, Deputy Senate President, Speaker, House of Representatives and Deputy Speaker of House of Representatives.
As expected, the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, threw his weight behind the proposal, saying that it was critical that the presiding officers enjoyed such benefits.
“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,” he said.
Also lining up in support of the proposal were Senators Stella Oduah (PDP-Anambra), Ahmed Yerima (APC-Zamfara).
The proposal was not rubber stamped at the retreat, however, as the leader of the Senate, Ali Ndume, rejected the proposal.
“The case of the state governors and their deputies is different. They were elected by the public. But we elect our principal officers. To me, I believe that the benefit of the office of the senate president and other principal officers is 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,” he said.
Ndume’s position was supported by the Senate Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio and Senator Oluremi Tinubu.
Nigerian lawmakers are among the world’s highest paid legislators and they currently are comfortably earning more than double what President Muhammadu Buhari is earning.
The President earns N14,058, 80 annually, about $70,000 while lawmakers in Nigeria still earn hefty sums of around $160 thousand a year, while the lawmakers in Nigeria still earn around $160 thousand a year. To be asking for more goodies at a time when Nigerians are calling for a downward review of their wage smacks off insensitivity on the part of the Legislators.
- Daniel Fayemi for encomium.ng