It is no longer a secret that the abject poverty and suffering starring our people in the face in the midst of plenty is deliberately designed using government as a cover.
There could not have been a better indicator to this evil than the proposed public office holders (payment of pension) Bill currently before the State House of Assembly.
The Bill among others is seeking to ensure that whether or not a governor continues in office he, the family, retinue of staff and relations do not lack anything economically and financially for life.
Contrary to the detestable practice of the State House of Assembly perceived by not a few as governor Amaechi’s willing tool this time deemed it necessary to organize a real public hearing on the intended law that is sure to fail whether it is eventually endorsed or not.
Thank God it was not surreptitiously passed as used to be the case and announced before the usual public show called public hearing.
Hon. Josiah John Olu, head of the Finance Committee of the State legislature presented the Bill at the public hearing Tuesday, March 27, 2012 at the premises of Rivers State House of Assembly.
According to the bill, the governor will be provided with two houses in any place of his choice in Abuja and Rivers State. He will also have three cars that will be replaced every three years and receive 300 per cent funding for any furniture of his choice.
Other benefits include: 20 per cent funding for utility, 10 per cent funding for entertainment, and 10 per cent for houses of their choice. This is in addition to free medical expenses for him and his immediate family; and security details that will include two officials of the State Security Service (SSS), one female officer of the same department, eight police officers for personal and domestic security, and domestic staff including a cook, steward, gardener and others. All the domestic staff, including drivers, shall be pensionable.
The benefits available to the deputy governor only come with slight differences.
Speaker of the RSHA, Otelemaba Daniel Amachree said the aim of the bill, when passed into law, is to take care of holders of the offices, provided they were not impeached before the expiration of their tenures.
Chairman of the House Committee on Finance. Hon Olu, told the public that the Assembly, by presenting the bill, is seeking to restructure a similar extant law made in 2003, saying that the endeavour is guided by the provisions of Section 124 sub section 1 and 2 of the 1999 constitution.
In his submission, state commissioner for budget and economic planning, Gogo Charles said the bill is to ensure those who serve in government do not leave in tears.
This is to prove that the sponsors of this rip-off bill may have done all the ground work they think will prepare a soft landing for this obnoxious plot to cheat and mortgage the state forever.
The ACN believes that the thrust of any bill or law should be to promote the welfare of the people and reduce their suffering as much as is humanly possible.
We also know that it is a salient feature of any undemocratic, insensitive and corrupt regime to be self-seeking and stubborn.
The Peoples Democratic ruling government under Rt. Hon Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi by all intents and purposes has confirmed to the Rivers people that it is not there for them but for themselves and their families alone.
Even from the surface value it is crystal clear that the only motive of this Bill is rip-off the state treasury.
If all the provisions outlined in the Bill are made for one former governor multiplied by the number of past chief executives and their deputies what else is left to carter for the teeming unemployed youths and thousands that graduate from hundreds of tertiary institutions in the country to add to the flood.
We regret that of all the problems and challenges confronting our people, all that border our dear governor is to continue to live in opulence for life; to perpetuate himself in office indirectly to beat the constitutional provision of not more than two terms in office.
The bill is unpopular, unethical, colonial, fraudulent and unacceptable.
We enjoin the State House of Assembly not to contemplate debating it, and consign it into the House waste basket where the bill rightly belongs.
In a civilized society, mere conception of this wickedness that sees only the former governors and their deputies as the only public office holders leaving out the real workers and live wire of the state economy, will provoke civil unrest, and call for resignation of such conspirators if not outright impeachment.
But here, the ruling PDP is shamelessly trying to institutionize and legalize a corrupt practice. This idea rather than help cure the corrupt tendencies of the governors will promote them because it derives from the disease itself, kleptomania that is christened public office holders bill.
The Bill while trying to convince us on the merits of the proposal failed to talk about what happens to all the material acquisition of the governors even with all the spoils of the office whether corrupt or not.
It is high time the PDP began to think before it acts.
If the contest for the office of the governor has become a do or die affair as is evident, a creation of same PDP without these eternal luxury attached, what will the situation be like if live is stupidly given to this ill-intended Bill.
Is it not laughable that a former governor who may have run the affairs of a state and managed its resources for a period not less than four or eight years as the case may be, cannot start a money yielding venture to sustain him and his family and even further contribute to the growth of the state economy when he is out of office unless he becomes a parasite on state treasury.
Is this bill not propagating once a governor, governor for ever and by extension, once a pauper, a pauper forever. Is our society that, which makes no room for growth, competition, elevation and promotion etc.
As a people and a grassroots political party out to nurture the conscience of our state and initiate tenets that are good and sustainable and which will beget good legacies to posterity, we condemn in its entirety the public office holders bills as proposed by Governor Amaechi and his cohorts. This bill is retrogressive, retarding and corrosive, and therefore must not be allowed to be.
Jerry Needam, JP
Action Congress of Nigeria