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2021: FG to spend N7.8bn on ex leaders


Oba Darasimi

Federal Government will spend whopping N7.8 billion on entitlements, severance allowances and other perquisites to Nigeria’s former leaders, details of the assented 2021 budget have shown.

This spending is coming at a time the country is battling with an acute revenue shortage in 2021, with plans to borrow about a quarter of the year’s budget expenditure.

The money is a yearly ritual in the nation’s budgetary cycle, and by the end of 2021, it would have cost Nigeria about N68.8 billion in five years.

The appropriation is in accordance with the remuneration for the former presidents‘ act, which offers a slew of luxuries.

As upkeep allowance for 2021, the act mandates the monthly payment of N350,000 to former presidents and N250,000 to former vice-presidents and chiefs of general staff, and this is subject to a review whenever there is an increase in the salary of the serving president.

Nigeria has had fourteen presidents, prime minister and heads of state, all men, including incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari, since independence in 1960 till date, 2021.

Inclusive of Buhari, seven of them are living: Yakubu Gowon, Ibrahim Babangida, Ernest Shonekan, Abdulsalami Abubakar, Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan.

The deceased former heads are: Tafawa Balewa (only prime minister), Nnamdi Azikiwe (first ceremonial president), Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi (first military head of state), Murtala Mohammed, Shehu Shagari, Sani Abacha and Umaru Yar’Adua.

The nation has also had 14 vice presidents and deputy heads of state, again all men, including two different deputies under the Ibrahim Babangida military junta – Ebitu Ukiwe, 70, and Augustus Aikhomu, who died in 2011 aged 71.

Seven of them are alive, including Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan, who would later become presidents themselves. Others are Ebitu Ukiwe; Mr Abacha’s deputy, Oladipo Diya; Atiku Abubakar, Namadi Sambo, and incumbent Yemi Osinbajo.

The nation’s deceased former vice-presidents include Ironsi’s deputy, Babafemi Ogundipe; Mr Gowon’s de facto deputy who died in 1991, Joseph Wey; Shehu Yar’Adua, who was Mr Obasanjo’s deputy in the latter’s military stint; Nigeria’s first democratically elected vice-president, Alex Ekwueme; Tunde Idiagbon, Mr Buhari’s deputy as head of state; Augustus Aikhomu; Mike Akhigbe, Nigeria’s last military deputy head of state.

Living presidents and their deputies are, at the expense of the federal government, entitled to at least six security details and personal aides; well-furnished office and a five-bedroom apartment in any location of their choice; vehicles replaceable every four years; diplomatic passport for life; free medical treatment, which may be abroad where necessary, for themselves and their immediate families; thirty days all-expense-paid annual vacation within and outside Nigeria.

The families of all deceased former presidents are, meanwhile, entitled to an annual allowance of N1 million payable as N250,000 per quarter, while the families of deceased former deputies get N750,000 per annum payable in the sum of N187,500 per quarter.

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