Abuja council gets ultimatum to revoke life perks for ex-officials

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has written the chairman of Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC), Abdullahi Adamu Candido, imploring him to “urgently withdraw and revoke the bill/edict for the unconstitutional and illegal payment of life pensions to former chairmen, vice-chairmen, speakers and other officials of AMAC.”

The group warned that if the piece of law was not withdrawn within 14 days, it would take the necessary legal action to challenge the “illegality and to compel them to comply with our request.”

In the correspondence dated October 11, 2019, and signed by its deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare, SERAP noted: “Under the bill/edict, AMAC’s past council chairmen would receive an annual pension of N500,000; former vice chairmen are to receive N300,000 each while ex-speakers will be paid N200,000 each. The payment of life pensions is expected to cost the council several millions of naira of taxpayers’ money yearly.”

According to the organisation, the payments would “cause the massive financial crisis and cripple the council’s ability to discharge its mandate of providing public goods and services to the people of Abuja,” adding that it would also put in jeopardy citizens’ access to these services.

The rights group continued: “The payment of life pensions to AMAC’s officials undermines the very concept of representative government, as it is a flagrant violation of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) Act. It amounts to an abuse of official power, position, and resources for personal gains, and reverses the notion of government as the public’s servant and not its master.

“The payment of life pensions to AMAC’s former officials is a copycat of the unconstitutional and illegal life pension laws that have been passed by several of the 36 state governments in Nigeria. Your council is setting a bad precedent as the first local council in Nigeria to introduce life pensions for its officials. This would send a dangerous message to other councils and risks opening the floodgate of life pension bills/edicts in several of the 774 local governments across the country.”

Instead, the activists urged the AMAC leadership to prioritise provision of basic amenities and functional educational institutions, primary healthcare facilities, potable water, sanitation and other infrastructure for residents of the area.

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