Opinion: How Ortom's Outrageous Pension Bill for Ex-Governors, Deputies May Cripple Benue Economy

Samuel ortom life pension for benue state former governors and deputies
Samuel Ortom
Many citizens of the Federal Republic of Nigeria feel tired and uninteresting when issues of government and governance are tabled for discussion. This could be linked to many dramatic scenes that are created by people that were trusted to navigate the affairs of government and governance. One of which is a Bill that is said to have been presented before the Benue State House of Assembly which promulgates some fractions of the state resources, compulsorily for the maintenance and servicing of the former Governors and their deputies in Benue State.

Sahara Reporters, yesterday reported that "A Bill for a Law to make Provisions for the Maintenance of Former Governors of Benue State and their Deputies and for Other Matters Connected Thereto" has been submitted to the Benue State House of Assembly.

Contents and Projected Results of the Bill
The contents of the bill are so outrageous that, if the bill is not reviewed or rejected, it may mark the end of the economic relevance of Benue State.

Apology to those that may deserve it, but it is a known fact that Benue State is deep among the committee of States in Nigeria whose economic viability is so poor, weak, and unsustainable that they squarely depend on the monthly Federal Allocation for the course of running government, and managing to sustain the state.

Not only that, Benue State is one of the states in Nigeria that has been (or rather say, that is being) heavily destroyed by the campaigners of the insecurity menace that is wrecking the country.

Now, take a look at such a state (Benue) with the vast majority of its residents wallowing in abject poverty, deciding to direct the bulk of the gifted Federal Allocation to the state toward servicing the life and the remains of those who have previously sat on the wealthy lake of the state with channels linking to their various abodes.

Benue State may continue to lag and the state may position itself as an example of a state with, at its best, a "poorly stagnant economy. " Let us assess the content of the bill, one after the other.

Part 1:
Section 2(a) (i) of the proposed Life Pension Bill for former governors and their deputies in Benue State makes provision for the payment to the former governors of a monthly ‘stipend’ equivalent to ‘the salary’ of a sitting/incumbent governor.

Unfortunately, there is no distinct clarity as to the amount of money that would be laid to the former governors and their deputies in this regard. This is because there is a wide margin difference between the Basic Salary and what could be called 'the salary' of a sitting/ incumbent governor in Nigeria. In fact, many times, the allowances are nothing lesser than five times the basic salary whereas a cumulus of both basic and allowances would be close to six times the basic salary.

Although 'the salary' of Nigerian political office holders is still being held confidential but could be read assured that it is nothing less than 'eight digits'.

The question is with about three former governors, including the outgoing governor Samuel Ortom, Benue State will be spending nothing less than 360 million nairas, annually to pay the pension of the former governors, only.

Part 2
Section 2(a) (ii) of the bill makes provision for the payment to all former deputy governors of a monthly ‘stipend’, equivalent to ‘the salary’ of a sitting/incumbent deputy governor.

Without deceiving ourselves, the difference between the salary of a sitting governor and the deputy is insignificant. Monthly, nothing less than eight digits payment goes to the deputy governor, as well.

Put 'the salary' of the three former governors and three former deputies together, Benue State will be committing over 700 million nairas, annually to the payment of the salaries of only six people. We have not yet reached the end as the bill also includes other packages for the former governors and deputies.

Part 3

Most amazingly, Section 2 (b) of the bill provides for the building of a permanent residential accommodation in any town ‘of their choice’ by the State in Nigeria to the former governors and their deputies.

Sincerely, it just came to my mind that "venue State is joking". Such a state with almost all its land being frustrated by the known and unknown armed men is asking a former governor where to build his permanent residence.

Everyone can ask oneself if you were to be in their shoes, will you even think about Makurdi where there are Abuja and Lagos with optimal security?

Come to think of this, if an incumbent governor knows that there is an assured hope of having a permanent resident in Abuja or Lagos or elsewhere that is safe, do you think they will ever think of restoring peace to Benue State?

Besides, look at it from this angle, the money that will buy one acre of land in Lagos or Abuja may be more than enough to buy one, two, or more villages altogether in Benue State. Do you think any of these governors/deputies will ever think about Benue in their choice of Permanent residence? Certainly, Benue State is joking.

Although I don't even think that a former governor or deputy needs a house from the state but if at all they want to give it to them, or should be either mandated to be anywhere in their village/town/city of origin or their local government area.

Part 4:

Sections 2(c) and (h) of the bill provide for the provisions of 4 new cars every 4 years for the former governors and 2 new cars every 4 years for the former deputy governors whose cars shall be serviced and maintained at the expense of the State.

Again, there is no price limit on these cars and no particular brand in view. Didn't be surprised if you just wake up one day and hear that a sitting governor has already procured his retirement vehicles and all four and those 2 of his deputies may be one of these most expensive cars in the world running into billions of naira. In fact, a governor with a godfather will only say 'yes sir, and so be it' of his godfather, eventually a former governor demands such.

Part 5

Section 2(d) and (e) of the bill provides for 6 personal staff for the former governors and 3 for the former deputy governors to be paid for by the State.

I may not have many issues with this, but the fact that there is no price limit on the amount of money to be spent on recruiting the personnel staff may battle anyone that understands how the business of governance is being run.

One day, we may just hear that each of these staff members of collecting sox digit salary monthly whereas he may never have access to the attributed salary.

Part 6:

“Section 2(g) of the bill provides for free medical treatment for them, their spouses, and at least 4 children under the age of 18.

Health is wealth and no one will have many issues with this than the fact that there should be a limit to this. Any medical issues that could not be resolved or handled by the Benue State Specialists Hospital should be exempted from this bill, categorically. With this open bill, the Benue State government may be spending millions of its gifted money on a foreign medical trip.

Besides, by the time the provision is limited to the state hospital, no governor will take the health ministry of the state for granted.

Part 7:
Section 3 provides that all the above expenses can be monetized or cashed out!

Here, I may say again that "Benue State is joking because a former governor/deputy may just come up with the cost of the house, cars, and other packages that suit his/her taste, collect the money, and do nothing. Whereas, the bill for maintenance of the invisible cars, houses, and the aides will continue to roll in. This is too outrageous for a state like Benue, a state with no visible economic providence at its advantage.

Category: Forum
Tag: Samuel ortom life pension for benue state former governors and deputies
Written by Omooba Alekuwodo (omoobaalekuwodo)
Published 4/18/2023 11:15:14 AM

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