Benue lawmakers reject Ortom’s pension bill out of resentment
Due to the non-payment of six months’ salary arrears and other allowances, the contentious executive pension bill sent to the Benue State House of Assembly for consideration has been put on hold.
Remember that the departing Samuel Ortom administration had introduced an executive pension bill?
attempting to qualify former governors and their appointees for benefits such as pensions and bonuses.
The bill, which has drawn criticism from some state residents, including the governor-elect, Rev. Fr. Hyacinth Alia, is intended to, among other things, give former governors and deputy governors access to four new cars every four years and two new cars every four years, respectively.
When the bill is passed, it will also provide six personal assistants for former governors and three for former deputy governors. It has passed first reading. Additionally, it stipulates that the previous governors, their spouses, and at least four minor children will all receive free medical care.
Under the condition of anonymity, a member of the House of Assembly told our correspondent on Tuesday that the House had suspended sitting until all of their emoluments were paid.
The lawmaker lamented that the lawmakers were owed six months’ worth of salary arrears and allowances, claiming that the departing governor met with the Assembly’s People’s Democratic Party caucus last weekend.
“He (Ortom) promised during the meeting to pay all the unpaid allowances and salary with May allocation before his departure on May 29.
“As of this afternoon on Tuesday, our lawmakers have not received their December 2022 salaries, let alone those for January, February, March, or April of this year. It has now been six months. Do you realize that the House also owes three months’ worth of overhead?
We therefore declined to work on the pension bill. Members have ceased meeting until all emoluments have been paid.
According to the lawmaker, the ex-governors’ pension bill, the public account bill, and the bill amending tertiary education are some of the significant bills still pending before the House.
Tertsea Gbisea, the head of the Benue State House of Assembly’s information committee, denied, however, that the House had canceled sessions because of unpaid salaries and other emoluments when she was contacted.
Instead, Gbisea claimed that the absence of the House was due to official obligations.
Although the House has not stopped meeting, the members have been out of the office. Before we left for our annual trip to the United States, some of our members, including myself, had traveled there earlier for electioneering. This trip should have been started last year.
“Others who were unable to obtain US visas are currently in Abuja obtaining visas for a European nation. When we are finished with all of these, we will return and take the appropriate action, according to Gbisea.
When questioned about the unpaid salaries and benefits, the lawmaker claimed that Benue lawmakers were not unusual in their circumstance.
He declared, “Our case is not unique; we are owed the same number of months’ worth of unpaid wages as other government employees. The governor has claimed that these issues are related to a lack of funding and has promised to resolve them all.
Gbisea stated that he would not guarantee that the House would pass the bills before the departing administration left office.
I am unable to say yes or no when asked whether the pension and other bills currently before the House will be passed. You are aware that each bill is considered on its own merits.
“We must do justice by sending bills to the appropriate committee when they are presented to members of the chamber. No bill is predetermined; it depends on the debate that will ensue as well as whether yes outweighs no; whichever is greater will be passed.