Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State, yesterday, declined assent to the bill seeking pension for former lawmakers from the state as proposed and passed by the Assembly.
The State Commissioner for Information, Mr. Daniel Iworiso-Markson, in a statement in Yenagoa, said Governor Dickson conveyed the decision to decline assent to the bill in a letter to the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Mr Konbowei Benson.
The Governor had earlier held a consultations meeting with the House of Assembly members in his country home, Toru-Orua, in Sagbama local government area, where he stated his reason for declining assent to the bill.
The statement said that the governor realized that the bill was inconsistent with Section 124 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended. He said that he was of the view that the State Assembly lacked the powers to expand the categories of public servants who should be entitled to pension.
The governor added that he was guided in the decision by the principle that government should not be for a select class of the privileged in the society. He said that the lawmakers and indeed the Nigerian populace would attest to the fact that all decisions of his administration were guided by the strong urge to protect the public interest and promote the general good.
Earlier, some concerned non-partisan groups in Bayelsa under the aegis of Embasara Foundation had advised Governor Dickson to be on the side of the people by declining assent to the “obnoxious life pension bill” passed into law by the members of the House of Assembly last week.
Embasara Foundation, a coalition of eight civil society groups in the state, said at a press conference in Yenagoa, that they would carry out a peaceful protest in the state capital to demonstrate the people’s disapproval of the bill if the governor did not decline assent.