Pensions

Lagos House of Assembly’s sleight of hand

WHEN I first read the news that the Lagos State House of Assembly was moving to reduce the offensive and obnoxious so-called pension of former governors, I was elated. The pensions were nothing short of corruption personified. They were extraordinarily lavish and scandalously humongous; and no work was done to merit or justify it. It was a clear case of leveraging on one’s position to enjoy what one does not deserve or merit. It was a clear case of abuse of privilege and of position. These were people to whom much was given; who gave so little in return, judging by the resources at their disposal, but who in turn fleece the state through mouth-gaping severance allowances and other emoluments they awarded themselves or which they caused their cronies and protégés in the House of Assembly to award.
According to reports, former governors and deputy governors of Lagos state have entitled themselves each to a house in Lagos and Abuja; between six and five cars every three or so years; in addition to other perquisites too numerous and sordid to mention here. For a job they did for just eight years – assuming that they even did it at all – they line up for themselves emoluments that will last a decent family a life-time. And to think that for many of our leaders, positions of authority only serve as the pedestal for them to serve their selfish personal interests and steal the country blind; only for them to continue, after office, to drain the state of resources sorely needed for development purposes just to maintain the opulent and offensive lifestyle of the bourgeoisie! So, head, they win and tail, they win. Conversely for the people, head, they lose and tail, they lose.
When speaker, Mudashiru Ajayi Obasa, was quoted as saying that the Lagos House was amending the Public Office Holder (Payment of Pension) Law Amendment Bill 2016 and reviewing downward the perquisites accruable to the beneficiaries, I considered it a right step in the right direction; although a complete abrogation of that law and the recovery of all properties and monies from the persons concerned would have been more like it. Many of the governors, former and present, who are enjoying or will enjoy this largesse, were/are notorious in their treatment of the actual pensioners who worked for upward of 30 years or more and who actually need their pension. Many of these governors, past and present, collected or collect workers’ contributions to the pension scheme and remit not to the appropriate quarters. They ate – and still eat – it! Many of them have not paid entitlements to retirees years after quitting service and pensioners are, in many instances, owed more than one year in payment arrears. Yet, such leaders turn round to draw humongous amount as their own pension, in addition to other benefits which include free holidays abroad and free medical treatment overseas for themselves and their families.
Half bread, they say, is better than none. So, if part of the common patrimony is salvaged now; maybe, another administration will come tomorrow that will go the whole hog – little did I know that the Lagos House was merely acting sleight of hand. They were only robbing Peter to pay Paul and obtaining by trick (OBT). Obasa said the ongoing amendment aimed to accord “due recognition to the legislature by allowing the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker to benefit in the pension.” I was beside myself with rage and indignation. So the intention was not to save money for the tax payers or lessen the people’s burden; they were only pruning the pockets of the governors/deputy governors directly into their own pockets! Such audacity! And such bare-faced robbery! Pen robbery!
The dangers are frightening indeed. One: More yoke for the tax-payer is being created. Once this dubious amendment sails through, it will take them no time to amend the same law again to restore two or more houses and many more cars to the occupants of the offices concerned, which by now would have increased from two to four. In the long run, we, the people, gain nothing; rather, we lose more. Two: Once it sails through in Lagos, count on other houses of assembly to follow suit. The office of Chief of Staff that Lagos pioneered is now the fad all over the country, helping to balloon the outrageous and prohibitive cost of governance.
To conclude: It will be immoral if Obasa and his deputy benefit from this law; as this will amount to abuse of office and of privilege. The aspect of the ongoing amendment reducing the perquisites of governors and deputy governors is okay but the addition creating similar perquisites for speaker and deputy speaker is not. The latter should, therefore, be expunged.

FEEDBACK
I really enjoyed reading “A White African Takes Over at OAU” (Sunday Tribune, June 11, 2017). Thank you for enabling me and other alumni of GREAT IFE feel as if we were physically present at the memorable ceremony in the famous Oduduwa Hall on June 7, 2017. I am proud of our citadel of learning where I left over four decades ago when Prof. Hezekiah Oluwasanmi of blessed memory was Vice-Chancellor. I heartily join all alumni to congratulate the new VC, Prof. Eyitope Ogunbodede.
—Deacon Dapo Omotoso, Ado Ekiti.

Your report on the inauguration of a new VC at the OAU was a splendid wrap-up of your treatises on the situation of the institution. The only thing of concern to me is the title “White African,” which you said you ‘loaned’ from the expression of the MC of the occasion, regarding its import on the personality of the African. Let me state from the onset that I agree in toto with the expression as well as the connotation of attributing the stated positive attributes/ character qualities to the “White man” i.e. the Caucasian race. I agree also with the connotation that, conversely, those attributes are lacking in the “African man” i.e. the Negroid, most unfortunately. The question, then, is, when will the African grow (develop) to that lofty height of the characterisation of a human species clad in shining armour of character, as it were? Indeed, how and when will that be, especially with the shenanigans that not only still prevail in our body-politic but are mounting daily?
—Olaitan.

I must state that I am not a Negritude. I disagree with the late Senegalese scholar and leader, Leopold Sedar Senghor’s postulation that “reason is Hellenic (Caucasian) while emotion is African (Negroid)”. Instead, I pitch my tent with Aime Cesaire who posited that reason and emotion are as Hellenic (Caucasian) as they are African (Negroid). I put the “White African” in parenthesis, meaning that I do not intent the ordinary meaning of the term but that it is used merely as a figure of speech, which is one of the licenses available to a writer. The fact that we have an African in the new OAU VC that we can vouch for as being able to hold his own against “Whites” whom you qualified in superlative terms, means that Africans as a collective are not inferior to “Whites.” There are good and bad people everywhere. Learning from the example of OAU, we must struggle to ensure that the right people are put in office and that we do things right.

Your article on Saraki and the CCT is 80 per cent correct. You were frank and straight to the point but remember that democracy is still very young in Nigeria. We are still in the learning mode.
—Pa Onanuga.

The CCT judge could not have convicted Saraki, courtesy of the prosecution witnesses; but his accusers have had their say.
—Eketunde, Ogijo.

To justify the messy handling of Bukola Saraki’s case at the CCT by the prosecution, you asserted thus: “The sour fruit of tribalism, sectionalism, cronyism, and provincialism of the Buhari administration are what we have reaped here.” That is the bitter truth and the crux of the matter! God dey! Igbeyin l’o ju. I also concur with the concluding sentence in your piece on June 12, to wit, “…unfortunately, the alternative forced down their throat—Olusegun Obasanjo—was a pill bitter than Abiola.” The law of Karma is still in existence and “the evil that men do lives after them!”
—08060099816.

God bless you for your piece on MKO Abiola and the June 12 saga. You wrote very well and concluded very well. However, where did you situate the Are Onakakanfo status of Abiola and the curse trailing the holders of the office in Abiola’s misadventure? I am a historian and specialised in Oyo Empire history. There is no way we can remove the curse of Are Onakakanfo from Abiola’s misadventure. All ancillaries are ‘sababi’ or fate helpers. —Adewuyi Adegbite.

Your perceptions about Awo’s political estate in respect of their roles in June 12 were derogatory, malicious, obnoxious, spurious, and erroneous. As a pastor, you should know that you will appear before God one day for judgment.
—Olayemi Olukunle

Readers are free to disagree and canvass contrary views since no views expressed here can sit pretty with all readers all the time. As for pastors, they must live their life daily under the scrutiny and ‘judgment’ of God. Waiting for the Day of Judgment to hear God’s verdict will be too late!

Your messages “On the Lord’s Day” are always appropriate and interrogative. God bless you.
—Sir T. Olowu.

Thanks for your regularly excellent articles. As usual, “Now that PDP is back…” gladdened my heart. May God continue to enrich you with more knowledge! I join others to welcome PDP back. But time and experience have taught me that preceding governments are always better than successive governments. For instance, Jonathan’s government was better than the current Buhari administration. May God in His infinite mercies give us good, mature, and visionary leaders!
—Olusola Taiwo.

“Now that PDP is back…” is a good write-up; the factors highlighted there-in seriously caused APC’s defeat. – 09060151436
Thanks for this regular meal every Sunday. I am your regular reader.
—Dan Abuh, Lokoja.

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