The new pension law will see Akpabio take a 300 percent annual basic salary as rent.
The Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly has reacted to the barrage of criticisms over its passage of a scandalous law that would enable the state spend about N200 million on Governor Godswill Akpabio annually as pension when he leaves office.
In a statement signed by the Speaker, Sam Ikon, the assembly said its attention has been drawn to the several misrepresentations, speculations and misinformation about the amendment of Akwa Ibom State Pension Law, 2006, for former governors and deputy governors.
Mr. Ikon noted that the passage of the law was a patriotic duty exercised by the assembly to uphold the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, show respect for public trust and to protect public income.
He stated that the Governors and Deputy Governors Pension Law is not new, having been enacted in 2000 during Governor
Victor Attah’s administration and later amended in 2006.
Having noticed a lacuna on several provisions of the old law, particularly on the medical expenses for former governors and deputies, he said the assembly moved to put a ceiling to what could be paid out by the government.
Based on experience, he said former governors and deputy governors expended several hundreds of millions on medical bills without infringing the provisions of the old law.
Mr. Ikon stated that the assembly placed an expenditure limit of N100 million for medical treatment for former governors and N50 million for former deputy governors.
“This money can only be paid directly to health institutions involved in the medicare or respective persons and are not accessed by, or paid to former governors of former deputy governors directly.
“In fact, if a governor or deputy governor is not ill, this law cannot be activated and the money cannot be spent.
“The house, in its wisdom, decided in the law to provide an amount not exceeding N1, 000,000 as monthly medical allowance for surviving spouses of former governors. This was the only innovation in the new bill as it were.
“The law further provides that a former governor should be entitled to at least one unit of a 5-bedroom house in Uyo or Abuja and 300 per cent annual basic salary as rent for a former deputy governor in addition to salaries and allowances for their personal aides.”
Continuing, Mr. Ikon noted that former governors can get 300 per cent of the basic salary of incumbent governor for yearly maintenance and fuelling allowance as stipulated by the Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Commission.
He said that the assembly was dismayed at what he described as attempts by some mischievous persons to reap political capital out of what he described as a “good intentioned and patriotic law,” saying that the house acted in good faith and clear conscience to protect public income and curb wastages.
While similar laws existed in various states of the Federation, the speaker said they have not attracted the unwholesome attention the Akwa Ibom version has been subjected to.
“In conclusion, the house frowns at the politicization of this law and condemns in totality, attempts to associate it with financial recklessness. The house has earned a reputation as prudent and accountable legislative body, which is always acting in the best interest of Akwa Ibom State and its people.
“This could be seen in the house consistently approving budgetary provisions of 80 per cent capital expenditure and 20 per cent recurrent expenditure in the last six years. This resulted in the uncommon transformation of Akwa Ibom State by the present administration of Governor Godswill Akpabio.
“Finally, we want to thank all former governors and deputy governors for not taking undue advantage of the open-ended nature of the previous law and for staying on the path of honour.
“The Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly makes this clarification for the records and in absolute good faith, hoping its puts to rest, the controversy surrounding this patriotic effort of the house in furtherance of public good,” Mr. Ikon concluded.
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