Akpabio bows to pressure, to repeal Govs pension law
GOVERNOR of Akwa Ibom State, Chief Godswill Akpabio, promised, yesterday, to send a proposal to the state House of Assembly to expunge aspects of the amendment to the Governors and Deputy Governors Pension Law which put a N100m ceiling and a N50m ceiling on the medical treatment of former governors and former deputy governors.
In a statement yesterday entitled: ‘The siege of truth’, Governor Akpabio frowned at the condemnation of the amendment as well as the vilification of members of the Akwa Ibom House of Assembly for what he described as gross misunderstanding of the intention of the amendment of the law.
The governor berated critics of the amendment who he said have resorted to misinforming the public for political reasons. He said “in the last few weeks, truth has come under siege by agents of falsehood in Akwa Ibom State. The good people of Akwa Ibom State have been unfortunately subjected to the cruelest and most unkind political gimmickry in the history of our state over the amendment of a sixteen-year-old law. This tidal wave of propaganda, misinformation, lies, falsehood, mischief and cynicism, we fear, may already have sucked in some unsuspecting members of the public who lack the ability to appreciate the salient points of this law and its ennobling attributes.”
According to him, “regrettably, one of the best-kept secrets in the political scene in Nigeria is that in Akwa Ibom State some politicians do not circumscribe their activities within the limits of morality and decorum. Some of them can abase the most hallowed and sacred things for their selfish advantages. The present matter is a case in point.”
Akpabio explained that the Governors and Deputy Governors Pension Law was “first enacted in 1998 as the Special Grant (Former Chief Executives) Edict. It was amended in 1999 by the Special Grant (Former Chief Executives (Amendment) Edict of 1999) and was retained in Cap. 122 Laws of Akwa Ibom State 2000. It was amended in 2002 by the Governors and Deputy Governors Pension Law 2002, which was later repealed by the Governors and Deputy Governors Pension Law 2006 assented to by my predecessor in office on 26th April 2007.”
Setting the records straight, he said in the course of its implementation, “we noticed a lacuna in the 2007 law, particularly on account of its open-endedness in the provisions relating to the medical expenses and provision of funds for the employment of domestic staff for the former Governors and Deputy Governors.”
In addition, he said “working with the House of Assembly, we sought to protect the law from abuse by putting a ceiling on the medical expenses for the treatment of these senior citizens of Akwa Ibom State. The ceiling, which was pegged at N100 million per annum for former Governors and N50 million per annum for former Deputy Governors, was never meant to be given either in part or in whole to anybody at any time for any reason. It was meant to be paid to health institutions involved in the treatment of the former Governors or former Deputy Governors and their spouses. It was, therefore, deliberate falsehood and organized misinformation to claim that the said money will be paid to former Governors or Deputy Governors every year.
This has never been the practice and the amendment has added nothing to give credence to this obviously politicized orchestration.”