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Reps Restore Benefits Of Former Military Heads Of State

Source: SAINT MUGAGA - thewillnigeria.com
PHOTO: FORMER PRESIDENTS, SHEHU SHAGARI; YAKUBU GOWON AND ERNEST SHONEKAN DURING A CONDOLENCE VISIT TO THE VILLA ON THE DEMISE OF LATE PRESIDENT UMARU YAR'ADUA.
PHOTO: FORMER PRESIDENTS, SHEHU SHAGARI; YAKUBU GOWON AND ERNEST SHONEKAN DURING A CONDOLENCE VISIT TO THE VILLA ON THE DEMISE OF LATE PRESIDENT UMARU YAR'ADUA.


ABUJA, July 01, (THEWILL) - The House of Representatives today said former military heads of state cannot be excluded from pensionable benefits even as it passed for third reading a bill for an act to provide remunerations of former presidents, heads of federal legislative houses and chief justices of the federation 2010.

The senate had a few months ago banned former military leaders from enjoying any form of allowances on the pretext that there were not democratically elected.

But with the re-committal of the bill for third reading, the bill will again be reconsidered at the Committee of the Whole of the House. Although, both the House and Senate would have to meet at a conference committee to harmonize their opposing positions.

Chairman of the House committee on rules and business, Hon. Ita Enang who sponsored a motion for the re-committal and third reading of the bill argued that since the 1999 Constitution has recognized the former military leaders as members of the National Council of States (NCS), it will be unconstitutional to stop them from drawing their retirement benefits as former presiding officers.

Enang submitted that since the former military leaders were recognized by the Constitution, it would be wrong for the National Assembly to stop them from receiving their benefits.

Section 1 (a) (i) of the bill states that ‘Presidents of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 9in this bill referred to as ‘former presidents’ shall be paid such amount as shall be recommended from time to time by the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission and approved by the National Assembly as up-keep allowance in addition to the pension entitlement under the 1999 Constitution.

"And entitled to the perquisites of the office as shall be recommended by the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission from time to time for approval by the National Assembly".

Also in giving approval to the bill, the House amended the section that originally provided that impeached presiding officers be excluded from the benefits.

Former military leaders who will benefit from this law include General Yakubu Gowon (1966-1975), General Olusegun Obasanjo (1976-1979 and 1999-2007), General Muhammadu Buhari (1983-1985), Gen. Ibrahim Babangida (1985-1993), Chief Ernest Shonekan (1993-1993) and Gen. Abdulsalam Abubakar (1998-1999).

There are also provisions in the bill that made it possible for families of deceased former leaders. Section 2 (1) of the bill states that ‘"members of the families of deceased former presidents and vice presidents shall be entitled to annual payments as shall be recommended by the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission as approved by the National Assembly and in a manner as shall be prescribed by the Senate.

"The allowances specified in subsection (1) of this section shall be applied for the upkeep of the spouse and education of the children of the deceased former presidents and deceased former vice presidents up to the university graduate level or its equivalent."

Elected presiding officers billed to benefit from the proposed law include the president and vice president, senate president and speaker of the House of Representatives with their deputies, chief Justices of the Federation and speakers of the State Houses of Assembly.