Bayelsa lawmakers under fire over life pension bill
Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
About 24 hours after it speedily passed a pension bill that gave life pension to the speaker, deputy speaker and other members of the House of Assembly, the legislative arm has come under fire from Bayelsans.
The executive bill sponsored by the leader of the house, Mr Peter Peretuobo Akpe and which was read and passed immediately on the floor of the house, stipulated N500,000, N200,000 and N100,000 for the Speaker, deputy speaker and members respectively.
Also to benefit from the pension bill are lawmakers of Bayelsa State origin who served in the Old Rivers State House of Assembly.
Leading the pack of those opposed to the bill is the All Progressive Congress (APC) which completely rejected the bill passed by the lawmakers.
The Publicity Secretary of the party, Doifie Buokoribo, in a press statement described the bill as “unjust, ungodly and self-serving.”
While stating that “it was unsympathetic for members of the House of Assembly to seek to enhance their own lives at the expense of the vast majority of Bayelsa people living in pain and penury” he described the life pension bill as an “unspeakable crime against our people.”
He noted that the APC had been at the forefront of efforts to enthrone a regime of a better life for the people of Bayelsa State for the past seven years leading a robust opposition to the current system of anti-people governance in the state and it did not intend to stop.
The statement read in part “regarding this latest move by the House of Assembly, we again say that the idea is avaricious, wicked, and insensitive. By proposing such a law, the lawmakers have merely portrayed themselves as people who feel no concern for the feelings of their suffering constituents. They have once again confirmed that they are in cahoots with the executive in the serial impoverishment of the people of Bayelsa State.”
APC advised the legislature to withdraw the obnoxious pension bill and avoid the appalling crime against the people of Bayelsa State. “In the event of the legislature’s refusal to heed this solemn advice, we appeal to Governor Henry Seriake Dickson, if he is still in touch with his essential humanity, to refuse assent to the pension bill when it is transmitted to him. Failing to do this, the party will call on the people of Bayelsa State to embark on a campaign of peaceful resistance against the rogue assembly and the poverty regime of Governor Dickson.”
Also, a coalition of civil society groups in the state is planning a protest to the House of Assembly to demand a reversal of the bill.
Many Bayelsans commenting on Twitter and Facebook have endorsed the protest by the coalition of civil society and have indicated interest to be part of it.