The news has been making the rounds especially on social media that the Bayelsa State House of Assembly has passed a bill into law that gives past lawmakers opportunity to receive pension for life. An act that has brought social media unrest within the last few days. In this publication, we focused on Comr Numontei Meshack Sintei’s publication posted to his Facebook handle. A call was also placed to the NDU Alumni president, Barr. Opuowei to elicit his views about the issue, but he was restricted with comments as he claimed he has only gotten the social media version of the information, that until he got a full and correct information, it would be too hasty to make comments.
For Mr. Prosper Yeri Dekumo, “Life Pension for Ex-Governors and lawmakers from 1999 till eternity? If you love Bayelsa, Speak Up”. With hashtag “#BayelsaInDanger“.
We also contacted other alumni members like Comr. Steve Tekerebo who happened to be busy at the time of call. Also, we perused through social media handle of the former SUG president of the Niger Delta University.
The most distinguished president Comrade Raphael Biweribo Samuel have this to say. “Now they have passed a law just because it benefits them, they can be paid pension but students cant be paid bursary”. The president maintained that while Bayelsan students have not been paid bursary after years of appeal, the lawmakers wasted no time in passing a bill that will benefit them into law.
For Comrade Angalapu Dengiyefa, “I was only aware it was a process, but was not intimate on being passed into law and would like to reserve comments for now”.
The following is a full post posted by Comrade Sintei Meshack lifted from his Facebook handle.
BAYELSA STATE PENSION LAW: A Criminal piece of Legislation
The origin of Pension Plan or pension scheme can be dated back to Germany as part of Otton Von Bismarck’s social legislation where he came up with the #Old_Age_and_Disability_Insurance_Bill in 1889 to provide pension annuity for peasant workers who have reached the age of 65 or 70 years or have served the state for over 28 years. This was how successive governments and state actors reformed the idea that later metamorphosed into Civil/Public Servant Pension Scheme.
Recently, the Bayelsa State House of Assembly yesterday passed the LIFE PENSION BILL FOR GOVERNORS, D- GOVERNORS AND THE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY MEMBERS 2019 BILL
Analysis of the Bill
a) Bayelsa House of Assembly members to get pension for life
b) The Bayelsa state Assembly approved payment of N500,000 for life for speakers. Deputy speakers are also supposed to receive N200,000 for life.
c) The bill was sponsored by the leader of the House, Peter Akpe, and it was passed on the floor of the House on Wednesday, April 24.
d) The 24 other members of the House will also earn N100,000 for life.
e) The bill specifically provided that “former lawmakers including persons of Bayelsa origin, who served in the old Rivers state, would enjoy life pensions for their services in the state as applicable to former presidents, vice-presidents, governors and deputy governors across the country.”
The people’s reactions
From Old Rivers State to present Bayelsa State, Bayelsa has produced over 160 Lawmakers. That is, Between 1999 to 2019, Bayelsa has gotten about 135 Lawmakers and over 20 Lawmakers in Old Rivers. The bill states that a minimum of N100,000 will be paid to each Lawmaker either in Old Rivers or present day Bayelsa. Therefore, N100,000 X 160 Lawmakers equals N16 Million Naira on a monthly basis. If we then add the monthly pension for the 6 Speakers (500k each) as well as the D-Speakers (200k each) will amount to 20, 200, 000 (twenty million, two hundred thousand Naira) on a monthly basis.
My Logic of Analysis
Recall that the Bill also featured packages for Bayelsans who became lawmakers and speakers in old rivers state. Amongst the Bayelsans who became speakers in old rivers state were Talford Ongolo (the present Chief of Staff to Governor Dickson) (SILGA Cons 1), Tuesday Kemeagbeye (Ekeremor Cons 2) & Claudius Enegesi (Ogbia Cons 1) will all receive 500k each thereby increasing the pension to approximately 22 Million Naira.
Again, the likes of former Governor Timipre Sylva, Bernard Agai, Fyneman Wilson, and several others will also be entitled to the monthly pension as they were lawmakers of Bayelsa origin who became legislators in old rivers state thereby increasing the pension fund to 25 million Naira. Arithmetically, 25 million Naira X 12 Months equals 300 million Naira a year as pension fund for lawmakers. If we then add the Pension for Governors and D- Governors it’ll amount to a billion Naira of tax payers money.
From the above, it is clear that this Bill is anti- people, anti-human, anti-progress, and anti- Bayelsans. This bill is criminal in nature and character. Do you know that the overall pension fund for a year to take care of the Governors and Assembly men is the budgetary allocations for 3 (three) Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) in the state? Do you know that in 20 years to come, this pension fund would have tripled in amount and figures?
It was in this state that this same government hired thugs and hooligans to beat up pensioners who agitated for their right. It was in this same state where over 9 persons where gruesomely murdered during the #Amassoma_Massacre and all the Bayelsa State Assembly could do was to “observe table manners” because when you’re eating you don’t talk. It was in this state that Students demonstrated for school fees reduction, yet the State Assembly kept quiet. We’re still experiencing high rate of insecurity, infrastructural decay, gross unemployment, human capital depreciation, oceanification and sea encroachment, arms proliferation, absence of electricity, amongst others, yet the assembly kept quiet.
Thank God, it is not the Hausa/Fulani man that is doing us this one, it is our people who are doing us and we know them. Thank God, it is no longer “How Europe Underdeveloped Africa”, but How Bayelsans Underdeveloped Bayelsa. Thank God they came up with the “Evil Pension Bill” on time in order to give Bayelsans the opportunity to decide their fate come November 2nd or December 7th Bayelsa State 2019 Gubernatorial Elections. Thank God, #Power_is_transcient (sic). Thank God, #Power_is_emphemeral (sic).
Comr Numontei Meshack Sintei is a prolific writer, a human rights activist, and a public affairs analyst, a graduate of Political Science, Niger Delta University and Postgraduate, UNIBEN.