BY MUMINI ABDULKAREEN
Reactions from eminent Kwarans and professional bodies including past governors and deputies tumbled in last night, over the amendment bill stopping payment of pension to former governors and their deputies during any period they hold political or public office assented by Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed, on Tuesday.
In separate telephone chats with National Pilot, most of the respondents described the development as a step in the right direction considering the economic situation in the state and the country at large.
While congratulating the executive, legislature and the people of the state over the feat, some of the personalities described Kwara as a reference point in the country on the issue and called on other states to do same.
They added that the conserved fund will positively rob off significantly on the fragile economy of the state and free needed funds to cater for other pressing issues.
Commenting on the issue from abroad, former governor of the state, Cornelius Adebayo, noted that it was an ideal thing to do adding that it was wrong for people to earn two salaries.
“It’s not a new thing because people cannot earn two salaries. It is commonsensical, I mean it makes sense and fortunately there are not many people involved apart from Saraki who I think I heard recently gave it up. Nobody should try to destroy it”, he noted.
But a former deputy governor in the state under the administration of Dr Bukola Saraki, Chief Joel Ogundeji however declined comment on the matter when his reaction was sought, last night.
He had initially said “I don’t want to make any comment on the issue” but said he would sleep over it and decide whether to comment or not when our reporter insisted.
However, a lecturer at the Department of Political Science, University of Ilorin, Prof. Hassan Soliu described the development as a win-win situation for government and the people, adding that the challenge is for the government to make the people feel the impact of the conserved fund.
The political scientist said “It has been an issue for quite some time and now that the ghost has been laid to rest, it means Kwarans has to join hands and forge ahead as one of the issues that divide them is no longer there.
“I understand it’s only for those who have political appointment but the issue is whether they will continue to get it after office. On the whole, it’s a good development for Kwara and given that our economy is fragile, the money saved will solve one or two problems the government has not been able to address.
“So I congratulate every Kwarans and the government for this. The challenge to government is to make sure people really feel the impact that the money being conserved is reflected in the standard of living of the people and I believe government too has such plans on how to channel the money to things people can visibly see”.
On his part, Senator Salman Adebayo who spoke from his base in Abuja said Kwara with the passage of the law “will now be a reference point” throughout the entire country and reiterated the call of the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, for other states to emulate Kwara.
He said the law is now a reference point and commended “the state House of Assembly for blazing the trail. It will go a long way to improve the economy of the state and allow government channel money to other pressing needs. I called on other state to emulate Kwara”.
While describing the issue as a good development, former commissioner for Justice and Attorney-General of the state, Saka Isau (SAN) said it is instructive that Kwara was the first state to amend such law in the country. He said the money that would have been spent twice would now be spent once which will be reflected on the state’s economy.
Although efforts to get the leadership of the Kwara State chapter of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to react to the matter was not successful last night as several calls put across to its Chairman, Comrade Yekeen Agunbiade were not answered.
But NLC, in a statement earlier signed by its chairman had heaped praises on the Kwara State House of Assembly under the leadership of Dr Ali Ahmad for the feat.
According to him, NLC had kicked against the bill in the past when it got the hint of its passage and appealed to other states with the barbaric policy to tow the right path as shown by Kwara Assembly.
With the signing of the amended law by Governor Ahmed, former governors and their deputies shall not be entitled to pension and other benefits whenever they hold a political or public office, a statement by Ahmed’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Communications, Dr. Muideen Akorede, had said.
Recall that Saraki had twitted shortly after the lawmakers amended the bill how he influenced the decision and called on other states House of Assembly to do tow similar path.
“I am happy that following my conversation with Kwara Speaker, Hon Ali Ahmad two months ago, the bill stopping pension for former governors and their deputies when they hold a political or public office was passed into law be the Kwara State House of Assembly…”, Saraki had twitted.