Ramon Oladimeji and Alexander Okere
The Edo State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party has condemned the recent amendment to the pension rights of former governors and deputy governors by the state House of Assembly, which provided them with houses worth N300m.
The House had on Wednesday amended the 2007 Pension Rights of the Governor and Deputy Governor Law to include the provision of a building valued at not more than N200m for a former governor and another worth N100m for his deputy.
With the exit of immediate past governor, Adams Oshiomhole, his deputy, Dr. Pius Odubu, on November 12, they were also expected to enjoy the benefit of choosing their preferred locations for the houses.
Among other benefits to accrue to the former governor are pension for life at a rate equivalent to 100 per cent of his last annual salary, three vehicles to be bought by the state government and replaced every five years as well as free medical treatment for the governor and his immediate family.
But the state Chairman of the PDP, Chief Dan Orbih, described the action of the lawmakers as anti-people and unacceptable.
This came just as civil society groups, under the Edo Civil Society Organisations, accused the House of allegedly promoting a “personal interest” with the recent resolution.
The group, in a statement signed by its spokesman, Osazee Edigin, said, “The recent action of EDHA is a huge disappointment to Edo people, owing to (the) recession in the country. The way and swiftness in stepping down the house rules for that purpose has shown that what matters to them is their personal interest.
“It is painful seeing legislators taking their personal gains more than the will of the people that elected them.”
Orbih, who spoke during an interview on Thursday, explained that the amendment could not be justified, especially at a time when the current recession was taking its toll on the citizens of the state.
The PDP chairman, therefore, called on Governor Godwin Obaseki to reject the amendment as a proof of his desire to run a people-oriented government.
Also, a human rights group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, has described the amendment as immoral and unfair.
The group said such a plan at a time when the state had a backlog of unpaid salaries and pension arrears and when millions of workers and pensioners in the state were facing hardships, was not only unreasonable but also a large-scale rip-off of Edo people.
It called on Oshiomhole’s successor, Obaseki, to immediately put a stop to the proposal by rejecting the bill to the same effect.
SERAP, in a statement on Thursday by his Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, was reacting to the report that the Edo State House of Assembly had passed a bill for the amendment of the state’s Law for Pension Rights of the Governor and Deputy Governor.