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Tears of President Buhari’s ministers

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Tears of President Buhari’s ministers

Tears of President Buhari’s ministers
April 15
10:13 2016

• Mr. President’s kitchen cabinet protest austere remuneration, regret being part of presidential team

Reality dawned on President Muhammadu Buhari’s ministers like the proverbial epoch of eternal damnation. Their drawn-out sighs over their remuneration and allowances resonate like a sad, miserable funeral song. Contrary to their fantasies about life on the corridors of power, as a member of President Buhari’s super cabinet, there is too little that they could flaunt as perks and thrill of belonging to Mr. President’s kitchen cabinet. Months in office, their principal has visited upon them, a devastating and very upsetting news about benefits accruable to them as members of his presidential cabinet.

The only leverage the Ministers will enjoy is the privilege of flying in a Business Class on official trips.

Conditions of service for the Ministers were contained in a letter given to them months ago by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Engr. Babachir David Lawal.

According to the letter, while the substantive minister will earn N2, 026, 400 Annual Basic
Salary($8,514.285), Minister of State is to get N1.8million($7,563.025) per annum. Other highlights of the conditions include: Estacode Allowance($900 per diem); Duty Tour Allowance(N35,000); Utilities Allowance(Telephone/Electricity/ Water)–30% of Annual Basic Salary (N607,920); Domestic Staff Allowance(75% -((N1,519,800) of Annual Basic Salary; Medical Facilities (in accordance with NHIS Policy); Special Assistant (To be provided in kind); Security (To be provided in kind); Air Travel (By Business Class); Newspaper Allowance (15% of Annual Basic Salary-N303,960).

The letter stated: “As a Political Office Holder, you must obtain permission from Mr. President before you travel out of Abuja. If the trip is official, Ministers are entitled to a Duty Tour Allowance of N35,000 per diem. However, all private journeys will attract no Allowance. “Severance Allowance of 300 %of Annual Basic Salary payable after full tenure of office with government. The allowance will be pro-rated after a minimum of two years tenure.

It added: “200 % of Annual Basic Salary (N4,052,800) will be paid to you to enable you to acquire accommodation of your choice in line with monetization policy.

“Furniture Allowance. 300 %(N6,079,200) of Annual Basic Salary will be paid once in every four years. The allowance will be paid annually at the rate of 75% (N1,519,800) of Annual Basic salary. “Motor Vehicle Fuelling Maintenance Allowance. 75% of Annual Basic Salary (N1,519,800) for the maintenance of your vehicle(s) as Government no longer provides chauffeur driven vehicles to Political Office Holders/Public Officers for house to office running.

“Annual Leave (30 calendar days for each leave year or calculated on pro-rata basis, with 10% of Annual Basic Salary(N202,640) as leave grant); Personal Assistant Allowance (25% of Annual Basic salary to enable you to employ a Personal Assistant of your choice).”

Ministers’ tears
The Capital investigations revealed that some of the ministers are very uncomfortable and saddened by news of their remuneration as approved by President Buhari. They consider it a tragic manifestation of the president’s anti-corruption fight. The salary and allowance package according to the ministers and their families, won’t be sufficient to accommodate their bills.

The package has caused serious dissatisfaction in the cabinet as the ministers are protesting that while they will be forced to earn $8, 514.28 Per Annum (N2,026,400), their counterparts in Ghana are on $50,000 (N11,900,000) and those in South Africa (the highest paying in the continent) were said to be taking home about $302,521 per annum. Consequently, the ministers have been reading the riot act to their families, aides, self-confessed loyalists and even concubines.

For instance, a minister whose children school abroad, placed a prompt call to his wards, warning them against incurring what he termed frivolous and unjustifiable expenses. He also told his concubines at home and abroad to go easy on him as current reality indicates that, he will no longer have access to easy money as he used to back when he was a state governor.

Another minister reportedly told his aides to delete numbers of certain concubines and political jobbers from his phone. He told the aide not to pick any random call from anyone seeking outrageous favour from him.

Further findings revealed that news about their allowances has been causing them serious agitation. The mood in their private social and political circuits have been melancholic as their wives, children, aides, lobbyists and distant relatives have been crying and cursing, lashing out like wounded carnivores over the sad fate of their benefactors.

But despite their sadness and dissatisfaction over their remuneration, Nigerians have applauded the president’s decision to cut down on his executive team’s allowances and salaries claiming it was a great step in the right direction. Olumide Banjo, a lawyer, commended the president for his courage and urged him to decline any pressure from any quarter to add to the aggrieved ministers’ remuneration. Corroborating him Gladys Onoja, a retired banker, stressed that, since they claimed they accepted to be part of President Buhari’s cabinet to serve the country, they shouldn’t protest their remuneration as it was apt for the quality of service they were employed to render.

“We have ministers in this government who left high-net worth job of $10,000 to $20,000 per month, how will they settle their bills? Some ministers have headed corporate. You can imagine a minister managing about $3billion portfolio now getting $8,521 per Annum.

“Some ministers have children in Ivy League universities where they are paying as much as $40,000 to $60,000 per annum. How will they be able to cope to meet up with their responsibilities?”

But while the president’s minister will earn austere salaries and allowances, Executive Secretaries, Directors-General and Group Managing Directors of parastatals like PEF, PPPRA, NNPC, PPMC, NCC, NDIC, DPR, NERC, NIGCOMSAT, and others will be earning more than  their bosses, the ministers. This is no doubt an unacceptable distortion to the salary structure within the country’s ministries, according to sources in the presidency.

Besides the lean salaries and austere allowances, President Buhari has also specified certain dos and don’ts on the ministers including travel restrictions. Most of the ministers are reportedly embarrassed by the perks accruable to them in office lamenting that if they had known, they wouldn’t have accepted to be part of President Buhari’s team.

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Mujeeb

Mujeeb

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