Benue Assembly passes controversial pension bill after getting salary arrears


The Benue State House of Assembly, on Thursday, passed the controversial executive pension bill.

Uba Group

The lawmakers passed the bill after reportedly receiving an alert of three out of six months’ salary arrears and payment of the three months’ arrears owed by the state government.

Desperate on ensuring the passage of the bill, the outgoing government allegedly conscripted some members of the house to resume sitting while at the same time dispatched thugs to stop those perceived to oppose the bill from having access to the assembly complex.

Having received the alert on Thursday, members were said to have conveyed a plenary session where the bill was passed through with serious adjustments.

The Minority Leader of the house, Bem Ngutyo, confirmed that the bill had been passed with ‘some adjustments’.

He said, “Yes, the house passed the bill just now but we reduced the contents badly; the four cars to governors were reduced to two, two to deputies reduced to one. The portion to provide accommodation to past governors at any place of their choice was expunged.

“So also the portion of medical trips abroad twice a year was reduced to once.”

Asked if the governor had cleared the six months salary arrears and three months’ overhead, Ngutyo said, “We have received an alert of three months salary out of six”, adding that the three months’ overhead had also been paid.

Corroborating the submission of the Minority Leader, Chairman, House Committee on Information, Tertsea Gbisea, who also confirmed the passage said that the house passed the bill but with ‘extensive changes made’.

Gbisea, who did not speak on those portions where changes were made, said, “Yes, a version of, the Maintenance of Former Elected Governors of Benue State Bill was passed today, extensive changes were made on the version sent by the executive.

“We had in mind the dire financial situation of the state and did the needful. The auditor-general’s report was also adopted two days ago.”

The lawmakers had suspended sitting following non-payment of six months’ salary arrears and three months’ overhead.

One of the lawmakers who pleaded not to be mentioned had, three weeks ago, said that the house took the decision to suspend sitting and not to pass the controversial executive bill until their entitlements were paid.

The pension bill is seeking to place ex-governors and their deputies on bogus gratuity, pension and other benefits.

The bill which received condemnation by some people in the state, including the governor-elect, Rev Fr Hyacinth Alia, is to provide for the governors a permanent residential accommodation in any place of their choice in the country, make provisions for four new cars every four years for the former governors and two new cars every four years for former deputy governors.

It also provides for six personal staff for the former governors and three for the former deputy governors to be paid for by the state, while it also provides for free medical treatment for the past governors, their spouses and at least four children under 18.