Former Presidents, heads of the federal legislature, former Chief Justices, and all former military leaders are to be paid allowances for life, the Senate decided on Wednesday, in a radical amendment of the law that also puts a smile on the faces of serving public officers.
The Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) was mandated to set the new package for former Heads of State Yakubu Gowon, Muhammadu Buhari, Ibrahim Babangida, and Abdulsalami Abubakar.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo will benefit too, likewise former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, former Senate Presidents Anyim Pius Anyim, Adolphus Wabara, Ken Nnamani, and their former Deputies; former House of Representative Speakers, and their former Deputies.
Senate President David Mark is in, along with his Deputy, Ike Ekweremadu; Speaker Dimeji Bankole, his Deputy, Usman Nafada, and former and current Chief Justices.
And the perks are to be enjoyed by the spouses and children of the late President Nnamdi Azikiwe, the late Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, the late Heads of State Murtala Mohammed and Sani Abacha, as well as by those of the late President Umaru Yar’Adua.
The Bill was read for the first time on September 17, 2008.
It scaled Second Reading on May 27 last year, and was referred to the Committee on National Planning, Economic Affairs and Poverty Alleviation (chaired by Zainab Kure) for further action.
In the conference report Kure presented on Wednesday, the Senate Amended Section 84 (1-5) of the Constitution to provide for annual allowances for former Presidents, Vice Presidents, Heads of Government, Prime Minister, Senate Presidents and House of Representatives Speaker and Deputy Speaker.
A proposal to include Speakers of the State Houses of Assembly was rejected.
The Bill stipulates that former Presidents and former Vice Presidents shall “be paid such amount as shall be recommended from time to time by the RMAFC and approved by the National Assembly (NASS) as upkeep allowance in addition to the pension entitlement under the Constitution. ”
They shall be “entitled to the perquisites of the office as shall be recommended by the RMAFC.”
Former Senate Presidents, former Speakers and their Deputies shall be “paid an up keep allowance from time to time as recommended by the RMAFC and approved by the NASS.”
They are also entitled to the perquisites of office as recommended from time to time by the RMAFC.
An amendment of Sub-section 2 (1) says: “The members of the families of deceased former Presidents and Vice Presidents shall be entitled to annual payments as shall be recommended by the RMAFC and approved by the (NASS) and in a manner as shall also be prescribed by the (NASS).”
The allowances specified in Sub-section 1 shall be applied for the up keep of the spouse and education of the children of deceased former Presidents and deceased former Vice Presidents up to university graduate level or its equivalent.
Sub-section 3 explains that, “For the avoidance of doubt, the allowance specified in sub-section 1 shall cease upon the death of the last spouse of the office holder.”
All the allowances shall be incorporated in the annual budget of the Federal Government which shall make provision for their remuneration.
In the initial amendment done by the Senate, Section 84 (5) restricted payment to only elected former Presidents and Vice Presidents.
During debate on the Bill, Mark (former Communications Minister and military Governor of Niger State), had backed the exclusion of his former military colleagues from benefiting from the package.
“This is to discourage other ways of getting into power through unconstitutional means; the only way recognised by the Constitution is through the ballot box and not through the barrel of the gun,” he had argued.
Source: Daily Independent – www.independentngonline.com