Barely a year to his exit from office, Governor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State has initiated a law to enable him pocket a whooping N200 million in annual pay after his tenure expires. Mr. Akpabio is also demanding other benefits including a new house, brand new cars, furniture and luxurious living for the rest of his life. The controversial law, which was exclusively obtained by Premium Times, is known as Akwa Ibom State Governors and Deputy Governors Pension Bill 2014. If passed by the assembly, the bill would repeal the Governors and Deputy Governors Pension Law, 2006. To underscore the urgency of the proposed law, the Governor has indicated that he wanted it passed hurriedly so it could come into force on June 1. Mr. Akpabio transmitted the bill to the assembly through a May 15 letter with reference number GHU/AKS/S/104/338. The proposed law, which is now receiving accelerated hearing from the rubber stamp state House of Assembly, was received by Acting Clerk of the assembly, Mandu Umoren, on May 19. When passed into law, Mr. Akpabio and former democratically elected governors of the state and their deputies as well as indigenes of the state who served in similar positions in Cross River State, will pocket several millions in monthly retirement perks. Based on Section 1(1) of the bill, “An indigene of the state who has held office as a democratically elected governor or deputy governor of former Cross River State and a person who has held office as a democratically elected governor or deputy governor of the state shall when he ceases to hold office be entitled,” to the new perks. Although similar laws have been passed by many Nigerian governors including those of Lagos, Rivers, Bauchi and Benue states, among others, Mr. Akpabio’s version is clearly the most ludicrous. Under the proposed law, Mr. Akpabio and others listed in Section 1(1) are entitled to a monthly pension for life at the rate equivalent to his current salary. Similarly, the serving deputy governor, Valerie Ebe, is entitled to a monthly pension for life at the rate of her current salary. Mr. Akpabio and his deputy; Mrs. Ebe will therefore pocket a total of N2, 223, 705. 00; and N2, 112, 215, 00 respectively as monthly and a total of N26, 684, 460,00 and N25, 346, 580 respectively as pension, per annum. This is based on approved remuneration package for state executive and local government executives by the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission, RMAFC. The governor is also entitled to a new official car and a utility vehicle once every four years, one personal aide and the provision of adequate security for his person during his lifetime at the expense of the state government. Akwa Ibom taxpayers are also expected to provide an amount not exceeding N5 million or an equivalent of $50,000.00 monthly for Mr. Akpabio to engage the services of a cook, chauffeurs and security guards. This provision is in contrast with Section 1(b) of the bill, which indicates that security shall be provided to former governors during their lifetime at the expense of the government. However, the deputy governor is entitled to N2million naira or an equivalent of $20,000.00 monthly allowance to hire cooks, chauffeurs and security guards. Mr. Akpabio and his spouse are to also access free medical services at a sum not exceeding N100 million or an equivalent of $600,000.00, while the deputy and her spouse will pocket N30 million or an equivalent of $200,000.00, annually. Based on budget figures from the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, NPHDA, and the Millennium Development Goal(s), MDG, the amounts set aside for the two government functionaries to access medical services could build and equip two state-of-the-art health centres and two blocks of classrooms in the state. Section 1(e, f, g, h, I j) of the bill wants Mr. Akpabio and other past governors entitled to a “Provision of a befitting house not below a 5-bedroom maisonette in either the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja or Akwa Ibom State for the Governor and a yearly accommodation allowance of 300
percent of annual basic salary for the deputy governor; (300 percent of the deputy governor’s basic salary is N6, 336,645). “Provision of furniture allowance of 300 percent of annual basic salary once in every four years; (A total of N6, 671,115 for the governor and N6, 336,645 for the deputy) “Provision of yearly maintenance and fueling of vehicle allowance of 300 percent of annual basic salary; (A total of N6, 671,115 for the governor and N6, 336,645 for the deputy) “Provision of severance gratuity allowance of 300 percent of annual basic salary as at the time the officer leaves office; (Another N6, 671,115 for the governor and N6, 336,645 for the deputy) “Provision of yearly utility allowance of 100 percent of annual salary; (with the governor taking N2, 223,705 while his deputy takes N2, 112, 215) “And provision of entertainment allowance of 100 percent of annual basic salary; (Another N2, 223,705 for the governor and N2, 112, 215 for the deputy).” According to Section 2 of the proposed law, a former governor or deputy who received severance gratuity under Akwa Ibom State Public and Political Office Holders (Remuneration) Law, 2000 is not eligible for any other severance pay. This means that former Governor Attah will enjoy the sumptuous retirement perks but will not be entitled to severance pay since they had been paid based on the provisions of the 2000 law. Where a former governor or deputy governor dies, the bill provides that the state government makes adequate arrangement and bear the financial responsibility for the burial. The government is also expected to pay a condolence allowance of a sum equivalent to the annual basic salary of an incumbent to the next of kin. One surviving spouse of the governor is entitled to a medical allowance not exceeding N12 million per annum provided such spouse was married to the governor at the time he or she was in office or if a wife had served as First Lady. Unless on health grounds, a former governor or deputy who resigned his office, or impeached or who had not held office for a period of three years or more, is not entitled to benefit from the provision of the proposed law.
‘She told everyone she wanted to be a journalist’ – survivor of Auno attack narrates how teenage niece was killed
When Fatima Babagana, a student of the University of Maiduguri, joined her uncle for a ride from Maiduguri, she probably did not know that she would not make it to Postiskum, her destination in Yobe.
Babagana was among the 30 people killed when Boko Haram attacked stranded travellers in Auno last week.
In an interview with CNN, Babagana’s uncle, who reportedly did not want his name to be mentioned, said the insurgents launched the attack when most of them were asleep.
He said his niece, who wanted to be a journalist, was shot in the head because the attackers could see the light from her phone which she was fiddling when they struck.
He said they ended up spending the night at Auno because on their way to Potiskum, soldiers at a roadblock in Benisheikh, a town 45 miles west from Maiduguri, ordered them to go back for their safety.
Babagana’s uncle said the officers had warned them that they could be ambushed by Boko Haram. He said they heeded the military’s advice and quickly turned back without knowing that a more perilous journey was ahead.
They traveled for another hour before encountering another military blockade in Auno village, one of the gateways into Maiduguri, and they decided to sleep in the car till the next morning.
“Fatima was sitting in the backseat and typing on her phone. They saw the light from the phone because it was very dark. Next thing I knew, they had shot her in the head,” he reportedly said.
Babagana’s uncle said while the insurgents kept shooting at people in the attack that lasted for about four hours, he and his friend, who was also in the car, managed to escape into the bush.
He said they would later see smoke billowing from where they had fled from.
“I wept all night. I kept thinking about what these terrorists would have done to her and others that were there,” CNN quoted him as saying.
Babagana’s uncle said when they returned to the scene of the attack on Monday morning, the cars were still burning.
“We tried to put out the fire, but we were helpless. It was just too hot,” he said.
Speaking when he visited the scene of the attack, Babagana Zulum, Borno governor, accused soldiers meant to secure the community of deserting the people around 5pm on a daily basis.
“I am not undermining the capacity of the military but we have made repeated appeal for the military to establish their unit in Auno,” he had said.
“They are here but as soon as it is 5 pm, they close the gate and lock the people and go back to Maiduguri. This is not right.”
President Muhammadu Buhari visited Borno to condole with the people over the killings but he did not get to Auno.
Angry residents had booed Buhari in Maiduguri.
‘You are expanding the kingdom of armed robbers’ — Bode George hits Sanwo-Olu over okada ban
Bode George, a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), says the ban of okada and tricycles in some areas of Lagos will only increase the spate of armed robbery in the state.
On February 1, the government of Babajide Sanwo-Olu restricted commercial motorcycles and tricycles in 15 local government areas and local council development areas.
The action was received with widespread criticisms among Lagosians.
Commenting on the ban during an interview with PUNCH, George, a native of the state, said the action would only “expand the kingdom of armed robbers”.
He said the ban is “inimical to anything that makes sense”, asking if any alternative employments have been put in place for those affected.
He advised Sanwo-Olu, whom he described as his younger brother, to revisit the law.
“How can they (state government) do that? Let us forget about politics, the governor is my younger brother and his uncle is my friend. I talk to him like an elder. He should sit down and revisit that law,” George said.
“It is inimical to anything that makes any sense at all. Most workers in Lagos work in the Island, how do they get to their offices early now? Must everybody buy a car? Which alternative employment do they have for the people that they have stopped from riding a commercial motorcycle? So, how do they survive?
“They are only expanding the kingdom of armed robbers. The number of people out of job is unbelievable and you are adding to it. Get the Amotekun to be in every area and they will monitor the movement of these people (okada riders).”
Speaking on the 2023 presidency, George said ideally, the PDP should zone the ticket to the south-east.
He added that if Bola Tinubu, a national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), should contest the election, then he would challenge him in the race.
George described a Tinubu presidency as disruptive, vowing to denounce his citizenship if the APC leader emerged as president.
“I had said it before that ideally, from our party, once it comes back to the South, it must go to the South-East…because they have never had it, but if the name Tinubu pops up in the APC, I would go all out to contest with him,” he said.
“Let us get out there because it would be the greatest disservice for our nation to have him contest as a presidential candidate.
“It would be the most illogical and most disruptive issue to have him (Tinubu) elected as President. If this happens, I will disown Nigeria to take the citizenship of Togo or any other country.”
On the widespread insecurity across the country, George said sacking the service chiefs would not put an end to the problem.
According to him, insurgency is as a result of “mistrust between people of different faiths and tribes”.
“Nigerians are now getting involved, is it the problems of service chiefs that is responsible for all these? What we have right now is the insurgency largely as a result of mistrust between people of different faiths and tribes,” he said.
“The service chief is just one man and a tree does not make a forest. It does not mean that if you change one man all is well.
“The issue is a collective responsibility. Their loyalty to the country must outshine everything they think of.”
Conduct fresh election in Bayelsa, APC writes INEC
The All Progressives Congress (APC) has asked the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct a fresh governorship election in Bayelsa state.
The supreme court had nullified the election of David Lyon, candidate of the APC who was declared winner of the election in the state in November.
The apex court asked INEC to issue certificates of return to candidates of the party with the next highest number of lawful votes and with the required constitutional geographical spread in the election, and on Friday, the commission declared Douye Diri of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the governor-elect.
But in a letter, Adams Oshiomhole, chairman of the APC, told INEC that Diri did not meet the requirement and that a fresh election should hold.
‘‘In the said judgement of the Supreme Court, the candidature of our governorship and deputy governorship candidates were nullified and the commission was ordered to issue fresh certificate of returns with the highest number of votes and with the required geographical spread,” the letter read.
‘’It is however to be noted that the Supreme Court did not void the votes that our party polled at the election and the implication of this is that the votes of the All Progressives Congress must be reckoned with in determining whether any other candidate polled majority of lawful votes cast in one-quarter of at least two thirds majority of the state.
‘‘We have reviewed the judgement of the Supreme Court and we are of the firm opinion that the candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party cannot be issued certificate of return and or sworn in as the Governor and Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State respectively.
‘‘We are aware of that section 179(1)(b) of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria mandatorily requires a candidate for an election to the office of governor of a state to have not less than one quarter of the votes cast at the election in each of at least two thirds of all the local government areas in the state before the candidate can be deemed to have been duly elected as the Governor of the State. This mandatory requirement was affirmed by the supreme court in the judgement under reference.
“From the results announced and duly published by the commission, it is clear that no candidates meet this mandatory constitutional requirement, including the candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party who only managed to poll one quarter of the votes cast in only five local government areas.
“The candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party or any other candidate whatsoever, none satisfies the requirement of one quarter of the votes cast in at least 2/3 of the local government areas in the state as required by the supreme court judgement further request that a fresh election be conducted by the commission for the office of the Executive Governor of Bayelsa State.”
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