The proposed law seeking to stop pensions and benefits for ex-governors has yet to be passed nearly two months after Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, announced plans to do so, The PUNCH has learnt.
While the Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Gbenga Omotsho, says the bill seeking to scrap the Public Office Holder (Payment of Pension Law 2007), has been sent to the House of Assembly, multiple lawmakers who spoke to our correspondents said the bill had not come up for mention and they were thus not aware of its existence.
Sanwo-Olu had told the House while presenting the 2021 budget proposal on November 10, 2020, that he would send a bill to the House that will ensure that pensions for ex-governors are scrapped so as to reduce the cost of governance.
The House, however, passed the state budget last week and it was signed by Governor Sanwo-Olu on December 31, 2020.
Speaking with one of our correspondents on Monday, a member of the House said there was no mention of the bill, adding that some provisions for the upkeep of some former political office holders were also included in the budget.
“In the 2021 budget there are some provisions for payment of some former officeholders. If for example, former Governor Ambode’s house is under construction, you wouldn’t expect it to stop halfway because of the new pension law. It seems the law will not take immediate effect even if it is passed today,” the lawmaker said.
Another lawmaker who wished to remain anonymous said they had not seen the bill, adding that they would have passed it if it had been submitted because it didn’t require much legislative work.
“To the best of my knowledge, we have not seen it. If he (Sanwo-Olu) had sent it to the House, it would have been given an express approval because it was an unjust law,” he said.
On whether funds were voted for ex-governors in the new budget, he said lawmakers had never voted funds for ex-governors and their deputies but sitting governors usually approve funds for them based on discretion.
But the information commissioner said the bill scrapping the pension had already been sent to the Assembly.
Omotosho said the bill was sent two weeks after Sanwo-Olu promised to scrap the pension, adding that no provisions were made for the former governors and their deputies in the new budget.
He added, “What you have in the budget is provision of one time pay off for political appointees, not necessarily for former governors and former deputy governors. It is for political appointees, which is about N200m. For instance, if you are appointed a board member and you finish your tenure or the board is dissolved, there is provision for you. It may be about N1m.
“We have sent a bill to the Assembly and the pension for ex-governors and their deputies has been removed. The governor initially presented the bill before the State Executive Council and it was approved. He signed it immediately and sent it to the Assembly. So, it should be before them and I am sure they must have passed it because it has been a long time.”