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Senate Rejects Special Retirement Benefits for Ex-Presiding Officers

Source: thisdayonline.com

Senate has rejected proposal for the provision of special retirement benefits for former Senate Presidents and Deputy Senate Presidents.

The proposal was part of the recommendations contained in the report of the Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba-led Ad-Hoc Committee on Immortalisation of late Senators.

Senators rejected the proposal on the ground that it would be “self-serving and injurious” to nation.

However, the upper legislative house accepted the proposal to immortalise late and living Senators by naming Senate Hearing Rooms and other infrastructure facilities after them in and around the Senate premises.

The Committee had recommended that the Senate should accord necessary support to former presiding officers who are living and former senators within the confines of the law.According to Senator Andrew Babalola (PDP, Oyo North), “this will help to rehabilitate Senators who are living in penury after serving the nation as legislators.

“We should find a way to provide necessary support for past Senators within the confines of the law. This will help them because if you see the way some of the past Senators are living, they live in so much penury that you will not want to associate yourself with them,” he said.

But Senator Ahmed Lawan (ANPP, Yobe North) said the proposal was insensitive, stressing: “we need to be careful with this recommendation.

“This is a very sensitive matter considering the facts that over 70 percent of Nigerians are living in poverty. If you serve in the Senate and leave here poor, it is a reflection of the economic position of our country. To set up funds for Senators, I think in my views, is very dangerous. We should just do our best to provide for Nigerians and whosoever finds himself outside this place should be able to cater for himself,” he stated.

His position was shared by Senator Ayim Udeh (PDP, Ebonyi South). He said: “If people live carelessly by smoking, womanising and drinking with their money, that is their business and not that of the Senate.

“Why should we think of supporting such persons when out of their carelessness, they got themselves into that situation? It is not for us to start planning for people who are not careful with their money,” he said.

Before putting the proposal to question during which it was defeated, Senate President, Senator David Mark reminded Senators that the current economic situation in the country, which he said could sustain new financial burdens.

According to him, “The current situation is not good for us to dabble into this now. This is not the right time for us and I think that there is a Bill which is already trying to look into remunerations for former Presiding Officers.”

The Ad-Hoc Committee was set up consequent upon a motion by Senator Nuhu Aliyu after the death of a former Senate President, Senator Evan Enwerem.