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Saturday, 19 November 2016

Who cares if former Presidents are owed salaries?

Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, broke some very 'disturbing' news to members of the Senate Committee on Federal Character and Inter-Governmental Affairs, this week:

Former Nigerian Presidents are being owed their allowances; spanning ten months.
Spare a tear for them, if you will.
Said Lawal: “There is a department responsible for payment of former Presidents’ entitlements.
“At present, funds are not available in service wide votes to do that. We are aware there was a protest in Bayelsa State that the former president (Goodluck Jonathan) was not paid, but we’ve explained that he’s not the only one affected.
“Others affected are Inter-Religious Council, Traditional Rulers Council and so on. For some reason, we have been writing and writing, but there has been no response. And there is presently no money to pay them.”
In this class of former Presidents owed emoluments are Ibrahim Babangida, Abdulsalami Abubakar, Shehu Shagari, Ernest Shonekan, Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.
One Senator described the development as "unfortunate".
A few other Senators were nearer depression when they learned that some former Presidents hadn't been paid their allowances.
They were devastated.
“What we have seen here is an abnormality", said Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi. "Before referring any matter to the National Assembly, it is a function of the executive to appropriate funds. Therefore, the SGF should understand that there is something wrong in this office that must be addressed.
“There is no way you can run the expenses of this office without cash backing. We definitely have to draw the attention of the budget office and ministry of finance to the problems,”Hunkuyi said.
Senator Aliyu Wamakko, slipped into catharsis: “We can understand if former President Goodluck Jonathan has not been paid because he just left office. But for someone like Shagari, who lives from hand to mouth...it is something I can’t understand. This development is really unfortunate; it doesn’t indicate seriousness, and it doesn’t indicate fairness.”
Wamakko has to understand. But how could he? Alongside other Senators, He's lived in a bubble all these years. They are still purchasing exotic cars worth millions of Naira even in a recession.
On the hot seat, SGF Lawal said the development has left him sorely "embarrassed".
“It is painful to me because as a person I know all of them (ex-presidents) personally. Now, why have we not been able to get the money? We requested a budget of N700 million, but the President has his way of doing things.
“Look around, you’ll see government vehicles breaking down every now and then. Really, I know the challenges the budget office is facing, but the truth is the funds are not just there. In any government, there are certain agencies that must be served first before others. So we have agreed on that. However, we will lean harder on the finance ministry to see that the situation is turned around.
“As SGF , I’m getting embarrassed and demeaned by chasing money. All MDAs ( Ministries, Departments, Agencies) come to me for things to be done, and it is not quite easy, but we try our best.
“Last year, these political appointees had nothing. As for assistance, we really need assistance to retain all that we have budgeted for,” said Lawal.
They never esprit.
What is "unfortunate" and "embarrassing", however is that these 'big men' still don't know what time of day this is.
But seeing as we are always here to help, here goes--most State Governors owe civil servants arrears in salaries; most businesses have closed shop because the country slipped into a recession thanks to the profligacy of these past Presidents; millions of Nigerians are jobless;
Millions of Nigerians employed by the private sector haven't received salaries in months. Inequality is at its highest since Independence and most Nigerians can't afford to whip up a meal to save their lives;
The country now earns far less from oil; during the administrations of these past Presidents, they refused to diversify--as a matter of fact, most of these past Nigerian leaders helped in looting the coffers on their watch.
According to the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), between 1999 and 2014, Nigeria earned N70trn (seventy trillion Naira) from crude oil sale. Would we be in a recession if we had saved within this period?
Where did all the money go? For answers, you may have to ask Obasanjo, Jonathan, the PDP and past Nigerian military rulers.
Sani Abacha stole so much, a statue of his corrupt self should be erected at the Aso Villa entrance. A stealing legend.
Why should we really care if these guys haven't been paid their pension for ten months? Like, seriously?
Didn't these guys corner enough oil proceeds to last them a lifetime?
The Senators and SGF who felt "embarrassed" and found the situation "unfortunate" really need to get a life. They are the unfortunate and embarrassing ones here.
What's a few months of no additional income for past Nigerian leaders?
Please!!!
For once, let everyone feel the pinch of this shoe we all wear.
We are in an economic recession and even past Presidents should know that they have to make sacrifices.
They also have to realise that their past actions brought us here. They have to understand that our past has caught up with us.

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