Another laudable bills from the Senate.
After months of delay, Senate yesterday finally passed a bill excluding former military Heads of States, and the Head of the Interim National Government (ING) from benefiting from a new remuneration package for former leaders.
The bill excluded Generals Yakubu Gowon, Ibrahim Babangida, Muhammadu Buhari, Abdulsalami Abubakar, late Sani Abacha and Chief Ernest Shonekan from enjoying the new pension package for past leaders.
Senate President, David Mark, a former military officer in a remark that stunned his colleagues, said the exclusion of former military heads of state “was to discourage other ways of getting into power through unconstitutional means.
He said: “The only way recognised by the constitution is through the ballot box and not through the barrel of the gun.”
The Senate ruled that only former elected president and heads of legislature would benefit from the new remuneration.
Passage of the bill which had dragged for so long in the senate followed the final adoption of the report of the senate committee on National Planning.
Contributing, Senator Zaynab Kure, a strong political associate of IBB, said: “The thrust of the bill is essentially to amend Decree 32 of 1999 and ensure that only democratically elected former Presidents are entitled in the schedule to the bill.”
The bill provides for remuneration to former Presidents, Vice Presidents, Senate Presidents, Deputy Senate Presidents, Speakers and Deputy Speakers of the House of Representatives and Chief Justices of the Federation.
“The members of families or deceased former Presidents and Vice Presidents shall be entitled to annual payments as shall be recommended by the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) and approved by the National Assembly,” the bill says.
The remuneration is also to cover up-keep of spouse and children of deceased former Presidents and deceased former Vice Presidents “and the education of the children up to the university graduate level or its equivalent.”
Senators at the session yesterday argued that former military heads of state cannot be part of the remuneration package because they came to power through means that breached section 1(1) of the 1999 Constitution.
Senator Olorunimbe Mamora (AC, Lagos East) said including ex-military rulers in the package would amount to encouraging truncation of democracy. He said: “We should not be seen to be encouraging anything that will undermine democracy, we should add elected in the clause.