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Less than 24 hours after the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly passed the state Governors and Deputy Governors’ Pension Bill, Governor Godswill Akpabio yesterday signed it into law.
The governor, at the ceremony, took time to explain the reason behind the passage of the amended pension law in the state which had been in existence since year 2000, saying the law, contrary to media reactions, was meant to block loopholes and check abuses of the open ended privileges extended to former chief executives and their deputies
The governor, who gave the explanation while signing the amended law, stated that "with the signing of this law, it supersedes the existing law passed by the previous administration which had been in existence since year 2000.
According to Akpabio,"the Nigerian constitution empowers the state Houses of Assembly to make laws for the wellbeing of its people, so we have today made the pension law for former governors and their deputies. This law was made in the year 2000 and was amended in 2006 and is now being amended in 2014."
He disclosed that "the new law states that all staff of the former governors, should not earn more than N5 million annually and staff of former deputy governors should not earn more than N2 million annually."
With this development, Akpabio noted that "no former governor can spend more than N100 million in a year for medical expenses and no former deputy governor can spend more than N50 million for medical expenses, because such extra money would not be spent by the state government, because we are making sure that we cover all the loopholes of financial wasteages."
"For the widows of former governors, they would receive a minimum of N1 million monthly for medical expenses and N500,000 for the widows of former deputy governors, "he said.
The governor also disclosed that the law covers those who also served in the old Cross River State, stating that the law was to streamline and to bring sanity in the spending of the state finances, which he said has been misinterpreted by the public and resulting to a lot of mis representation in the Internet by the people.
He noted that the monies so appropriated would only be spent when any of the beneficiaries were admitted or being treated in any hospital, adding that, if at the end of the year, no one visited the hospital the money would be returned to the treasury.
The state governor thanked the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Hon. Sam Ikon and members of the house for the peaceful manner they handled the amendment of the bill.