By Ayo Kehinde
Hon Idowu Obasa, Speaker
Many Lagos citizens who sneered at the bill for the repeal of the Payment of Pension Law 2007 when it was presented to the Assembly by Governor Babajide Sanwo-olu are ready to have a last laugh as member after members on Monday at a seating, spoke in favour of its rejection.
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu had while presenting the 2021 budget proposal on November 10, 2020, said he would send a bill to the Assembly that would ensure that pensions for ex-governors and their deputies are scrapped so as to reduce the cost of governance.
Called the Public Office Holder (Payment of Pension Law 2007), which ensures payment of pensions and other benefits to former governors and their deputies, the Assembly on Monday read for a second time the bill that seeks to repeal the law.
All the junior lawmakers who spoke argued that it would not be too good to repeal the law in its entirety as there were some important sections and stipulations that should be considered.
Oluyinka Ogundimu (Agege 2), argued that the governors and their deputies and other such political office holders should be made to enjoy some benefits no matter how little. The bill, he submitted, should be amended in such a way that it would not throw former political officers to security challenges since if the original law is repealed, it would mean withdrawing all security agents and domestic staff earlier attached to them.
For Gbolahan Yishawu (Eti-Osa 2), the objective of the bill as raised by the executive is to ensure that the state begins to look inward in relation to the cost of governance.
He said that as chairman of the committee on economic planning and budget, he has had the opportunity to check the finances of the state and would say Lagos is not very rich, but only has people who effectively manage its resources.
Rotimi Abiru (Shomolu 2), said he supports an amendment to the law instead of repeal.
“For a person who has served as chief executive of a state, I do not think it is nice denying them of their benefits.
“I can appreciate that some of them move to other appointments. For these people, there can be a caveat. But for those who serve in that capacity and do not have any other thing to do after office, it may not be something elaborate, but something may be coming to them periodically”, he said.
The lawmaker representing Epe Constituency 1, Tobun Abiodun, said he does not subscribe to a total repeal of the law because it would give room to corruption in office.
He said provisions should be made available to governors, deputies and possibly speakers after they leave office.
Other lawmakers who supported the amendment to the law include Jude Idimogu (Oshodi-Isolo 2), Saad Olumo (Ajeromi-Ifelodun 1) and Abdulsobur Olawale (Mushin 2).
While rounding off the debate, Speaker Obasa observed the questions and suggestions raised by the lawmakers. He also supported arguments that repealing the law in totality would expose former governors and deputies to security challenges.
Obasa committed the bill to the House Committee on Establishment with a two-week mandate for a report to be submitted.
The law, which was signed by former governor, Bola Tinubu, states that “ex-governors are entitled to an array of benefits which include a house in any location in Lagos State and a house in Abuja for a two-term governor; six brand new cars every three years, 100 per cent of the basic salary of the serving governor, free health care for himself and members of his family, furniture allowance, which is 300 per cent of their annual basic salary, house maintenance allowance and many other perks including eight policemen and two officials of the Department of State Services for life.”