By Sunday Ani
A group of journalists and media practitioners, Nsukka Journalists Foundation (NJF), has given a 90-day ultimatum to the Enugu State House of Assembly to repeal the 2007 Gubernatorial and Pensions Law, which approved the payment of pensions and gratuities to former governors and deputy governors of the state, or face legal action.
This was contained in a communiqué issued at the end of its emergency meeting on Wednesday.
The Foundation also frowned at the recent attempt by the state lawmakers to increase these payments, describing the move as embarrassing, particularly when some courts of competent jurisdiction had declared such payments null and void.
The communiqué, jointly signed by the Foundation’s chairman, Chijioke Amu-Nnadi, the secretary, Brendan Eze, and seven others on behalf of the Foundation, and made available to the Daily Sun, questioned the propriety of such a law in a state that has practically been unable to discharge its financial obligations to its civil servants and pensioners.
“We are dismayed and wish to express our disappointment in the leadership and membership of the State House of Assembly, as well as known and unknown supporters, sponsors and defenders of this Bill, for not deeming it fit, considering the difficulties faced by civil servants and pensioners in Enugu State, to REPEAL the 2007 Law.
“We, therefore, urge the Enugu State House of Assembly to quickly repeal the obnoxious law (Enugu State Gubernatorial Pensions Law 2007, as amended in 2017). If this is not done within the next 90 days, the Nsukka Journalists Foundation, whose motto is ‘Conscience of the People,’ shall not hesitate to approach a court of competent jurisdiction, as well as the court of moral conscience and public opinion, to decide on the matter,” the communiqué stated.
The Foundation also advised the state governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, to be conscious of the state’s finances, infrastructure gaps and deficits, as well as lack of basic amenities like water and electricity, and prevail on the lawmakers to do what is right, so as to earn the legitimacy of the people.
“We are painfully aware of the need to provide water, better health facilities and services, job opportunities for teeming youths, better educational facilities, better teaching tools and personnel, among so many urgent needs of the state and her people. We believe that the state’s scarce resources ought to be better deployed towards improving these physical, material and social infrastructures. We are also aware that if the Bill is ever passed, the medical allowances so provided would only encourage medical tourism, and a movement of scarce funds of Enugu State to other places such as Lagos, Abuja and Dubai, considering the poverty of current health facilities and services,” it further stated.