By ADEBIYI ADEDAPO, Abuja
The National Assembly has perfected plans to include former leaders of the legislative arm of government as members of the Council of State.
The Nigerian Council of State is an organ of the Nigerian Government, which among other functions, advises the executive arm of government on policy making.
The Council of State, according to the 1999 Constitution as amended comprises the president, who is the chairman, the vice-president, who is the deputy chairman, all former presidents of the federation and all former heads of the government of the federation, all former chief justices of Nigeria, serving president of the Senate, serving speaker of the House of Representatives, all the governors of the states of the federation and the attorney-general of the federation.
But in a new amendment, the Bill is seeking to alter Paragraph 5 of the Third Schedule to the Constitution to include former presidents of the Senate and former speakers of the House of Representatives as members of the Council of State.
This is just as another alteration to the constitution seeks to ensure life pensions for former Senate president’s, deputy Senate presidents, speakers of the House of Representatives and deputy speakers is also being perfected.
When eventually passed by the National Assembly and assented to, the Bill will ensure that past leaders of the three arms of government are fairly represented in the Council of State, as well as guarantee a life pension for presiding officers of the National Assembly.
The alterations are part of the 23 items resolution adopted by the House of Representatives Special Ad-hoc Committee on Constitutional Review, headed by deputy speaker of the House, Yussuff Sulaimon Lasun.
A document exclusively obtained by our correspondent indicated that the alteration of paragraph seeks to include former heads of the National Assembly in the Council of State.
This is expected to enhance equity and equality of the arms of government and uplift the legislature as an institution.
“Part I of the Third Schedule to be altered in paragraph 5, by substituting sub-paragraphs (e) and (f), new sub-paragraphs ‘(e)’ and ‘(f)’ – ‘(e)’ the President of the Senate and all former Presidents of the Senate; and (f) the Speaker of the House of Representatives; and all former Speakers of the House of Representatives.”
Meanwhile, another Bill seeking to alter section 84 of the Constitution will guarantee life pension for presiding officers of the National Assembly who were not impeached.
According to the current arrangement, only former Presidents and vice presidents are entitled to life pension equivalent to the annual salary of the incumbent president and vice president.
Section 84 stipulates that; “there shall be paid to the holders of the offices mentioned in this section such remuneration, salaries and allowances as may be prescribed by the National Assembly, but not exceeding the amount as shall have been determined by the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission. (5) Any person who has held office as President or Vice-President shall be entitled to pension for life at a rate equivalent to the annual salary of the incumbent President or Vice-President: Provided that such a person was not removed from office by the process of impeachment or for breach of any provisions of this Constitution.”
The alteration to the section, however, seeks to insert a new subsection, ‘(5A)’ to accommodate provision of the life pension to cover former presidents of the Nigerian Senate, deputy presidents, speakers of the House of Representatives and deputy speakers.
“Section 84 of the Principal Act is altered by inserting after subsection (5), a new subsection “(5A).” Any person who has held office as President or Deputy President of the Senate, Speaker or Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, shall be entitled to pension for life at a rate equivalent to the annual salary of the incumbent President or Deputy President of the Senate, Speaker or Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, provided that such a person was not removed from office by the process of impeachment or for breach of any of the provisions of this Constitution.”
This alteration entitles the resident of the Senate, deputy President of the Senate, speaker and deputy speaker of the House of Representatives to life pension benefits as is the case with leaders of the other two arms of government.
This resolution, according to a LEADERSHIP Weekend source, has been adopted by the Senate and the committee is set for the final adoption next month at a planned retreat for its members.