The National Assembly’s recent move to provide life pensions to its presiding officers, including the Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives, as well as their deputies, has enraged civil society organizations and some senior advocates.
The present Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, and their deputies will benefit if the proposal is finally approved by the Senate.
The Joint Special Ad Hoc Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution of the National Assembly laid its report including 68 recommendations in the respective chambers on Wednesday.
Members of the House of Representatives will review and accept the proposals on Wednesday and Thursday, while the Senate votes on the amendment legislation on Tuesday.
Section 84(5) of the Nigerian constitution already provides for a life pension for all previous Presidents and Vice-Presidents, at a cost of ₦7.8 billion per year on average.
In an interview, however, Kola Dare, the Deputy Director of the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, urged Nigerians to lobby their representatives in the National Assembly to oppose such provisions, claiming that it was self-serving of them to consider such a provision in the first place.
“If that is true, the proposed amendment cannot be said to be in the interest of Nigeria,” the SERAP director added. In court, SERAP is disputing the payment of life pensions to some state governors and deputy governors.
The provision was also condemned as obscene by the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CSLAC), which is Nigeria’s chapter of Transparency International.
The idea, according to CSLAC Executive Director Auwal Rafsanjani, would put a greater burden on the country’s ailing economy if passed.