5th November, 2010
A former governor of Ogun, Chief Segun Osoba has said that a pension scheme forÂ former Presidents and Heads of State in Nigeria is a welcome development.
Similarly, the Nigeria Guild of Editors (NGE) President, Mr. Gbenga Adefaye alsoÂ agreed that the development was acceptable.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the National Assembly on WednesdayÂ passed a bill providing remunerations for former Presidents and Heads of State andÂ after their death, their spouses should benefit.
The bill restored the status of former military leaders as beneficiaries.
It also included Presidents of the Senate and Speakers of the House ofÂ Representatives, Chief Justices, Deputy Senate President and Deputy Senate PresidentÂ and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives.
The Senate had kicked against the inclusion of ex-military rulers in the list ofÂ beneficiaries when the bill came up for its second reading in March this year.
But, with the passage of the harmonised bill on Wednesday, former military rulers,Â Generals Yakubu Gowon, Muhammadu Buhari, Ibrahim Babangida and Abdulsalami AbubakarÂ are now to be remunerated for ruling the nation.
The bill, which is subject to the assent of President Goodluck Jonathan, however,Â excludes speakers of state Houses of Assembly.
Osoba told NAN in Lagos, that “the world over, states take care of their leaders,Â past and present and Nigeria should not be an exception.
“We must not neglect our own. We do not want our past leaders to be living inÂ penury and this must be done without fear or favour,â€™â€™ he said.
He said that in spite of all odds, especially with some past military heads ofÂ state, Nigerian past leaders should be allowed to have a good living.
“I am against military intervention but not all Nigeria military heads of StateÂ wereÂ actually bad.
“Gen. Yakubu Gowon (retd.) created a situation that allowed for integration ofÂ Nigeria after the civil war and had comported himself well since leaving office.
“On the strength ofÂ the character of Gowon, one would say yes to the pensionÂ scheme,â€™â€™ Osoba added.
In the same vein, Adefaye told NAN that the pension should be for the living.
“The living should be fairly and equitably treated, but there cannot be pension forÂ the dead,â€™â€™ he said.
Sen. Ibikunle Amosun simply said: “I am a senator and if the senate agreed with itÂ then I am for it.â€™â€™
NAN also reports that to benefit from the remunerations are the families of lateÂ presidents and heads of state.
The family of the late Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa-Balewa, Nigeria’s first and only PrimeÂ Minister between 1960 and 1966, is a beneficiary.
Other beneficiaries are former Presidents Shehu Shagari and Olusegun Obasanjo, asÂ well as ex-vice-presidents Alex Ekwueme and Atiku Abubakar.
Former Presidents of the Senate, Chief Adolphus Wabara, Chief Anyim Pius Anyim andÂ Ken Nnamani, as well as their deputies, are also entitled to earn benefits orÂ pension.
Also on the list of beneficiaries are former Chief Justices of Nigeria and SpeakersÂ of the House of Representatives.
The bill specifically made provisions for members of Tafawa-Balewaâ€™s family, whoÂ would benefit by virtue of clause two of the bill.
The bill provides sundry allowances for the families of deceased presidents andÂ vice-presidents for the upkeep and education of their children.