17 July 2017

Nigeria: Lagos Assembly Vows to Amend Law Giving Tinubu, Fashola, Others Free Houses, Cars

Photo: Premium Times

The Lagos State House of Assembly has begun the amendment of a law that provides for lavish pension benefits to former governors and their deputies, the speaker, Mudashiru Obasa, said Monday.

Speaking to journalists at an event to mark the second anniversary of the state's eighth Assembly, Mr. Obasa said the amendment of the Public Office Holder (Payment of Pension) Law will save money for the state.

He said the private member bill is titled Public Office Holders (Payment of Pensions) Amendment Bill, 2016.

"The Bill has been read first time and awaiting second reading," the Speaker said.

"The intendment of this bill is to save tax payers money while addressing the cost implication of some parts of the law.

"For instance, the law allows governors and the deputy to have a house each in Lagos and Abuja while both governor and the deputy are also entitled to six and five vehicles respectively. But with this amendment, both governor and the deputy will be limited to a house in Lagos where they served as well as have three and two vehicles respectively."

Key beneficiaries of the law are the state's most recent governors, Ahmed Tinubu, now a leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress, and Babatunde Fashola, currently Nigeria's power, housing and works minister.

The controversial law, available in other states, was first put in place by the Tinubu administration.

The move by the lawmakers came more than two years after the seventh Assembly, led by Adeyemi Ikuforiji, first introduced the bill which sought to amend the existing law by including the Speaker and Deputy Speaker, in the lavish post-retirement benefits with proposals for extravagant life pension, accomodation, security and medical cover for the two officials and their families.

The Lagos State Public Officer Holder Law (2007) signed into law by Mr. Tinubu, also provides for the former governor and deputy governors 100 percent of annual basic salaries of the incumbent governor and deputy, furniture allowance of 300 percent of annual basic salary every two years, 30 percent car maintenance, 10 percent entertainment, 20 percent utility, and several domestic staff.

Mr. Obasa said the inclusion of the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker in the amended law is to avoid the undermining of the legislature as well as not giving the Executive arm undue advantage "which could cause unnecessary rancour while safeguarding separation of power."

"As such, it seeks to accord due recognition to the legislature, which is the symbol of democracy in the state, by allowing the speaker and the deputy speaker benefit in the payment of pension."

Mr. Obasa said the achievements of the eighth Assembly included the passage of eight bills into laws in the second session while 72 resolutions had been made.

"Other bills are at various stages of passage, one of which is the bill targeted at tackling cancer in our society," he continued.

"These resolutions and laws are those that border on the welfare of the people living in Lagos, which have had direct impact on them. For the record, I will like to emphasise some of these laws and resolutions.

"The Neighbourhood Watch Law of 1996 was repealed by the House of Assembly in the second session and signed into law as Lagos State Neighbourhood Safety Corps Law (2016). The aim of this law is to ensure that emerging highbrow crimes like killings by herdsmen, kidnapping, ritual killings and terrorism do not take root in Lagos State. Its corps was launched early this year.

"Also, the house made the much-talked Lagos State Properties Protection Law (2016) within the last one year, which is meant to prohibit forceful entry and illegal occupation of landed properties in the state. The law provides for prohibition of forceful land take over, entry by force, illegal occupation of property, use of land agents, illegal use of law enforcement agents, encroaching with a weapon, sales of property without authority and professional misconduct among others by the "omo oniles" (land grabbers) with their attendant punishments as regards the particular offence.

"Similarly, in a bid to curb the rising wave of kidnappings in the state, the Lagos State House of Assembly passed into law the Kidnapping Prohibition Bill (2016), which is now Lagos Kidnapping Prohibition Law (2017)."

Mr. Obasa said as part of his 10-point agenda, the lawmakers had organised the second constituency meetings simultaneously in all the 40 constituencies of the state.

"At the same, we have not failed in holding the MDAs to account through intensive and effective oversight activities, and in responding earnestly to the petitions by Lagosians through appropriate Standing or ad hoc committee.

"Apart from this, we have not relented in organising training programmes for lawmakers and staff, a factor that has improved them in no small measure.

As promised at the last forum, today, I am delighted to inform you that this House now livestreams its proceedings, being the first State House of Assembly to do so in the entire Africa.

"Distinguished guests, in line with the success of this administration, which is pivoted on our party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), seven out of the eight members from the opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) of this assembly have defected to our party, APC.

"This assembly was also, for the first time in the history of assemblies in Nigeria, visited by the Imperial majesty, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi (Ojaja II) and his entourage earlier this year. The courtesy visit was borne out of the good news that the Oba heard about our stupendous and exceptional achievements as a house of assembly."

Highlights of the existing Lagos State Public Office Holder Law include:

Annual basic salary: 100 percent of annual basic salaries of the incumbent governor and deputy.

Accommodation: One residential house in Lagos and another in FCT for the former governor; one residential house in Lagos for the deputy.

Transport: Three cars, two back-up cars and one pilot car for the ex-governor, to be replaced every three years; two cars, one back-up car and one pilot car for the deputy, also to be replaced every three years.

Furniture: 300 percent of annual basic salary every two years.

House maintenance: 10 percent of annual basic salary.

Domestic staff: Cook, steward, gardener and other domestic staff who shall be pensionable.

Medical: Free medical treatment for ex-governor and deputy and members of their families.

Security: Two SSS operatives, one female officer, eight policemen (four each for house and personal security) for the ex-governor; one SSS operative and two policemen (one each for house and personal security) for the deputy.

Personal Assistant: 25 percent of annual basic salary.

Car maintenance: 30 percent of annual basic salary.

Entertainment: 10 percent of annual basic salary.

Utility: 20 percent of annual basic salary.

Drivers: Pensionable.

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