Governor Godswill Akpabio Pension bill saga has generated a lot of controversy in Akwa Ibom State and beyond.
The Akwa Ibom State Governors and Deputy Governors Pension Bill states that “an indigene of the state who has held office as democratically-elected Governor or Deputy Governor of former Cross River State and a person who has held office as a democratically-elected Governor or Deputy Governor of the state shall, when he ceases to hold the said office, be entitled to certain benefits.”
These special benefits include pension for life at a rate equivalent to the salary of the incumbent Governor or Deputy Governor.
The governor who had received several honorary awards by different organisations and people of the state for his good and transparent governance in time past is now considered a greedy and self-enriching governor as a result of the said Bill.
However relating to the new development , the states commissioner for information, Hon. Aniekan Umanah disclosed in an interview with Planet FM, a radio station in the State capital city, Uyo that the bill was not controversial, that people should have taken out time to investigate the history and the facts surrounding the Bill before reacting to it negatively in the media.
In a phone conversation with Uncommon Truth Online Hon. Umanah spoke specifically on the purpose behind Governor Akpabio putting the Pension Bill together and sending it to the Akwa Ibom House of Assembly.
“The purpose behind Governor Akpabio putting the Pension Bill together and sending it to the Akwa Ibom House of Assembly is because Governor Akpabio like any other public servant by law is entitled to a pension plan,” Umanah said.
He added: “It is important that people understand that the Pension Bill predates the current administration of Governor Akpabio and it originally emanated from the past administration of Governor Obong Victor Attah and has remained pending for 7 years.
“All Governor Akpabio did was to amend 3 clauses of the original Bill and put a cap on the section that dealt with medical services in order to prevent possible open ended frivolous medical claims by former chief executives of the state might make in future. No responsible government would leave medical claims open-ended because of the possibility of financial abuse.”
The two other clauses the commissioner mentioned is related to the provision of funds with regards to employing domestic servants and medical allowances for a surviving spouse.
In the same vain, the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Hon. Sam Ikon has defended the provision of free medical services to former Chief Executives of the State.
He said: “The measure is to ensure that medical expenditure of the Governor does not exceed N100 million. These figures are upper limit, Governors and their deputies do not necessarily have to get that much.
“The speedy passage of the bill is for the benefit of the generality of Akwa Ibom people.”
Hon. Ikon expressed his disappointment over the negative publicity over the bill urging political opponents not to be a part of self-destructive mission.