Abia State scraps pension for ex-Governors

By Ologeh Joseph Chibu

The Abia State House of Assembly has made a landmark decision by repealing Law number 4 of 2021, known as the Abia State Governor’s and Deputy Governor’s Pensions Law.

The law makes lavish provision of cash and assets for former Governors until they die.

Many of the 36 States of the Federation operate the same law.

The move follows widespread criticism of the law, which provided for substantial benefits for former governors and deputies, including security, medical services, cooks, and stewards, funded by the state government.

A principal officer of the House revealed that under the repealed law, pensions were granted for life and the amount was to be determined by the incumbent governor, further adding, “on death, the state government will pay the family an amount equal to the deceased annual salary. All these are at the expense of the government.”

However, former governors such as Orji Uzor Kalu, Theodore Orji, and Okezie Ikpeazu disclaimed receiving any such benefits, sparking further controversy.

In response to the Assembly’s action, aides of former governors Kalu and Orji reiterated that their principals had not received any pension payments during their tenure. Similarly, Ikpeazu expressed dismay over the law, labeling it as sponsored and refuting any involvement in receiving pensions from the state government.

The bill to repeal the controversial law, titled “H.A.B 11, The Abia State Governor’s and Deputy Governor’s Pensions Law Repeal Bill 2024,” was championed by the Majority Leader, Mr. Okoro Uchenna Kalu. The Speaker, Chief Emmanuel Emeruwa, commended his colleagues for their cooperation in passing the bill, emphasizing its alignment with public sentiment.

However, Ememanka, the spokesperson for Ikpeazu, released a statement on Wednesday, addressing the circulating reports. He stated, ” The attention of the immediate past Governor of Abia State, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, has been drawn to reports circulating online to the effect that the Abia State House of Assembly has repealed the 2001 law under which former governors and deputy governors are paid some money as pension.”

“The said reports, which are obviously sponsored, are mischievously couched to give the false impression that Dr Ikpeazu is amongst former governors of the state currently receiving a pension from the Abia State Government.”

“Dr Okezie Ikpeazu wishes to make it abundantly clear that since after handing over the reins of power as Governor of Abia State on May 29th, 2023, he has neither requested for, nor received from the Abia State Government, any dime under any guise whatsoever, and has no intentions of doing so.”

“Former governor Ikpeazu has since moved on with his life and is currently engaged in other areas of interest to him and advises the Abia State Government and her various organs to face the business of governance and desist from engaging in needless media sensationalism.”

The repeal received further support from the immediate past Deputy Governor, Ude Oko Chukwu, who affirmed that he had not received any pension payments, stated, “Nobody has given me a dime. I am aware of the law. For me, it (the law) is as good as not being there. If all past governors said they have not been paid anything, what is the essence of the existence of the law?”

Meanwhile, Deputy Speaker Augustine Okezie praised the swift passage of the bill, highlighting its responsiveness to the desires of Abia State residents.

This development underscores a significant shift in governance priorities and reflects the Assembly’s commitment to fiscal responsibility and public accountability.

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