Proposed pension, immunity for Saraki, Dogara immoral – Sagay, TUC

The Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to disregard any bill from the National Assembly on life pension and immunity for its principal officers.

Also, the Trade Union Congress has strongly condemned the proposed life pension for principal officers of the National Assembly, describing it as ungodly and disgraceful.

In the same vein, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Foreign and Domestic Debts, Senator Shehu Sani, on Monday, opposed the proposed life pension and immunity for principal officers of the National Assembly.

The immunity and life pension for the presiding officers were proposed by some senators at a retreat organised by the Senate Ad Hoc Committee on Constitution Review in Lagos on Saturday.

Among others, the senators want the presiding officers of the National Assembly, such as the Senate President, Deputy Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives and Deputy Speaker of House of Representatives, to enjoy life pension and immunity.

While speaking with one of our correspondents on Monday, Sagay described the proposal as outrageous and annoying.

The senior advocate said the Senate seemed to be an institution where members only sought to promote their personal interests.

Sagay said he did not understand the rationale for life pension for the principal officers when the lawmakers received salaries monthly.

He said, “Saraki is a former governor. Is he not earning pension in Kwara already? The proposal is annoying, immoral and outrageous; it is the height of insensitivity. These demands show that they don’t fear Nigerians.

“Those pushing for the demands should have asked how the public would react before presenting the demands. I will ask the President to totally disregard the bill. The President should veto such bill if it ever gets to his desk.”

On the immunity for the principal officers, Sagay said seeking immunity was tantamount to planning for a crime and demanding immunity in advance to cover it up.

“Many are still questioning the immunity granted to the President and the governors and then some are proposing immunity for senators. Should all Nigerians be asking for immunity then? I am so shocked that some could be dreaming of such outrageous and annoying idea, it is nonsensical,” he added.

The President and Acting Secretary-General of the TUC, Messrs Bala Kaigama and Simeso Amachree respectively, also flayed the federal lawmakers for the proposal.

The labour leaders said on Monday that it was shocking for the lawmakers to make such demands with the current economic situation which had caused job losses and increased poverty in the country.

They also stressed that those found to have violated the laws of the land should be made to face the law.

“The Trade Union Congress condemns and describes as unfortunate the proposed life pension for presiding officers of the National Assembly after their tenure in office, even at a time the economy has collapsed and brought about massive job losses and unprecedented poverty.

“We also insist that those who violate the law, no matter how highly-placed, should face the wrath of the law,” they said.

The labour leaders stated that it was ridiculous that the lawmakers were either acquiring 108 jeeps or they would be increasing their allowances or awarding contracts to themselves and their cronies.

“Is it not unfortunate that while we are yet to recover from the shock caused by some lawmakers, who allegedly molested some ladies in a hotel in the US, another drama is unfolding with the latest proposal of life pension for Senate president, deputy, Speaker of House of Representatives and deputy?” they said.

The labour leaders argued that the benefits of the principal officers of the National Assembly were too juicy for them to demand more.

They believed that the excessive privileges for the lawmakers were responsible for their desperation to cling onto their positions, calling for the reduction of such privileges.

In his reaction, Sani, representing Kaduna Central at the National Assembly, registered his opposition to the constitutional amendment, which covered life pension for principal federal lawmakers as well as immunity for the public office-holders.

He said this on Monday when he visited the residence of the Kaduna State’s correspondent of the Peoples Daily Newspaper, Mr. Femi Oyelola, who was involved in an auto crash.

Sani, however, explained that he was not against immunity for the President and the Vice-President in the proposed amendment.

The senator added, “I am personally opposed to life pension for legislators, governors or their deputies or immunity for public office-holders.”

According to him, there is no reason for public office-holders to enjoy immunity.

Sani believed that all Nigerians needed social insurance.

The Senator, who had earlier donated N200,000 to the journalist while he was on admission at Saint Gerard Catholic Hospital, promised to pay the balance of Oyelola’s hospital bills.

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