Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State has declined assent to the Bill seeking life pension for both new and old past members of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly.
This was disclosed by the State Commissioner for Information, Mr. Daniel Iworiso-Markson, who said the Governor conveyed the decision to decline assent to the Bill in a letter to the Speaker of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly.
The Governor held consultations with the Assembly members in his country home of Toru-Orua, where he explained his reason for declining assent. Iworiso-Markson quoted the governor as having said that the bill was inconsistent with Section 124 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended.
Governor Dickson said that he was of the view that the State Assembly lacked the powers to expand the categories of public servants who should be entitled to pension. He stressed that he had to withhold assent to the bill because the State which was bedeviled with a lot of challenges in spite of its low internally generated revenue base and unstable earnings from the oil economy was the only state out of Nigeria’s 36 states to come up with such a bill.
He said, “The provisions of this Bill granting pension to members of Bayelsa State House of Assembly and the extension of same to former members of the Assembly and Bayelsa indigenes who served in the Old Rivers State House of Assembly, is inconsistent with Section 124 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended.
“I am not convinced about the legality of this Bill which seeks to expand the categories of persons entitled to pension. While I agree that the Assembly can adjust the quantum of pension payable to persons entitled to pension, I am not convinced that the House has powers to add to the categories of pensionable public officers.
“Evidently, there is no record of any other state in this country that has expanded the categories of pensionable public officers to include lawmakers. I do not agree that Bayelsa which is coping with all the myriads of issues and challenges, with our low Internally Generated Revenue base and the unpredictable oil economy, should be the first to initiate this.