NLC cautions over pensions for N’Assembly leaders
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has cautioned the leadership of the National Assembly against amending the 1999 Constitution to make provision for the payment of life pensions to the President of the Senate and his deputy, Speaker of the House of Representatives and his deputy.
The NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, in a statement in Abuja yesterday bemoaned the position of the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, that the Legislature should emulate both the Judiciary and the Executive arms of government that enjoy the privilege.
The Congress lauded Ali Ndume (Majority Leader), Godswill Akpabio (Minority Leader) and Oluremi Tinubu on their rejection of the proposal on the fact that the Senate President and House Speaker are elected by members of their respective chambers and not the public unlike President and governors and their deputies who are elected by the public and that the privileges already enjoyed by the leadership of the two chambers are enormous such as absence of tenure limitation.
The NLC said: “We at the Nigeria Labour Congress would want to go on record as having opposed the idea of putting the President and Speaker of the House of Representatives and their deputies on life pension.
“We have quoted copiously from the arguments for life pension in order to expose the ludicrousness and vanity of their logic.
“We are convinced, nothing but ego and greed are the over-riding interest for wanting to put the leadership of the Legislature on life pension. What the governors have done is unrealistic and immoral and rather than ensure the right thing is done, some senators have planned to set-up for themselves a model that is at once bad, immoral, illegal and unsustainable.”
The NLC, which argued that the concept of pensions derives from 35 years of meritorious service, stated that politicians have subverted this time-honoured practice by rewarding themselves generous severance packages after four years in office.
It said the packages not only make a mockery of what public servants take, the beneficiaries are paid upfront while the average public service pensioner dies on the verification queue.
“Senators should therefore get their priorities right, whip themselves into line and perform the tasks for which they are elected. These tasks as defined by the constitution are lawmaking, over-sight and investigation,” the NLC stated.
The Wabba-led congress opined that there are issues in the constitution begging for attention such as devolution of power, autonomy for local councils and others.
It said Labour expects the Senate to outlaw the criminal pensions for former governors and any other undeserving retiree through an amendment of the constitution.
The NLC, which insisted that Nigerians have consistently expressed their desire to remove the constitutional provision for absolute immunity clause for President and governors and their deputies, further noted that rather than heed the demand of Nigerians, senators are more interested in feathering their nests or how they can over-shine the Executive and the Judiciary in perks and perquisites.