By Abdallah el-Kurebe, Editor
#TrackNigeria: The Human RIghts Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), a pro-democracy and Non-governmental organization has condemned the newly introduced pension scheme for Bayelsa state political office holders, describing the policy as evil.
It also said the law is retrogressive while warning that its endorsement “could lead to widespread social crime because of its manifest ill-intention and intrinsic abuse of public good.”
In a statement jointly signed by the National coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director, Miss Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA asked Bayelsa state government should halt the bill or risk being sued in court.
The group observed that the law, which was made retroactive, was offensive to the fundamentals of law making process since laws ought not to be retroactive in nature.
“It Is unthinkable that Bayelsa state government that should be forward looking and pro-poor because of the widespread impoverishment of its people by the criminal activities of multinational crude oil drilling firms over the last many decades.
“This has left their environment devastated including the destruction of agro-allied businesses, but the officers are rather concerned about the elitist type of criminal syndicate, which the newly endorsed state-wide pension scheme for Bayelsa state political office holders represent,” the statement read.
HURIWA applauded the decision of the Bayelsa based non-governmental and civil rights groups to reject the law and urged all Bayelsa people, irrespective of political affiliations ,to stage civil disobedience actions, “should the state government fails to reverse this terribly criminal minded policy meant to benefit the already over pampered political elite.”
The group also stated that apart from the inherent ethical challenge that the Bayelsa state political pension portends, the policy was also a clear violations of chapters two and four of the constitution, which obliges state governments to prioritize the overall public good far and above selfish pecuniary gains for the politicians.
HURIWA said the idea behind aspirations to be elected to serve the people is not so that the elected officials could empty the lean state resources to quench their seemingly bottomless pit of pecuniary ambitions.
HURIWA cited section 14 (2) (a) (b) of the constitution which provides thus: It is hereby, accordingly, declared that-(a)Sovereignty belongs to the people of Nigeria from whom government through this Constitution derives all its powers and; authority; (b) The security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government.”
It recalled that the Bayelsa state House of Assembly had reportedly triggered popular and mass angst last Wednesday when it hurriedly passed the bill sponsored by the leader of the House, Peter Akpe.
HURIWA quoted the media as reporting that the bill approved N500,000 post-service monthly pensions to a speaker of the assembly, while a deputy speaker will receive N200,000 and a member N100,000.
“The swift passage of the bill by the law makers without conducting any public hearing angered most indigenes, who accused Governor Seriake Dickson of being the person behind the bill,” it alleged.
The statement added that HURIWA was planning to do a detailed petition to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to urge it to step in and stop the resources of Bayelsa people from being vandalised by political office holders in Bayelsa state.