By Haruna Mohammed Salisu
Daily Trust newspaper of April 4, 2016 unearthed a damning story where ex-governors and their deputies, now serving ministers and senators, loot their economically crippled states in the name of “pension”.
The report also unveiled that the ex-governors and their deputies, now serving senators and ministers, are also entitled to two houses (five-bedroom mansions) in Abuja and their respective state capitals; three to six cars replaceable after every four years; free medicals for themselves and their immediate families; furniture allowances; house maintenance allowances; car maintenance allowances; entertainment allowances; utility allowances, and several aides who are also paid from the states’ coffers.
Though the packages vary from one state to another, it is important to note that the beneficiaries of the packages are currently occupying offices as senators and ministers and are also drawing huge amount of money from the coffers of the federal government as salaries and allowances.
The report noted that there were 21 ex-governors and their deputies currently serving as senators and ministers. It also hinted that in Gombe State “there is N300 million executive pension benefits for the ex-governors”, which is relatively small compared to other states.
Let us assume that every state dishes out N300 million for its former governor and his deputy for pension and different categories of allowances I mentioned previously. If you tabulate the figures by 21 (number of ex-governors and their deputies, now serving senators and ministers), it will amount to N6, 300,000,000 (Six billion, three hundred million naira).
Do you know that the money is enough to pay three hundred and fifty thousand workers in the event that each worker is to receive eighteen thousand naira minimum wage?
Do you also know that three hundred and fifty thousand workers are more than the entire civil servants of Bauchi, Gombe and Taraba states put together?
Now we are living in a society where 21 people are taking home annually what could reasonably serve 350,000 people in the event that each takes home N18,000 monthly. Twenty-one people are drawing home annually what is enough for civil servants of more than three states if each of the civil servants is to collect N18,000 every month. This is happening at a time when the same set of people consistently enjoys another jumbo salary for the various positions they currently occupy.
The same twenty-one people take home four hundred and eighty-eight million nine hundred and ninety-three thousand six hundred and forty naira as their current total salary, which is enough to pay twenty-seven thousand one hundred and sixty-six workers if every worker receives N18,000.
More clearly put, if you tabulate their pension and current salary, 21 people in Nigeria take home six billion seven hundred and eighty-eight million nine hundred and ninety-three thousand six hundred and forty naira (N6,788,993,640), which is enough to pay three hundred and seventy-seven thousand one hundred and sixty-six workers at the rate of N18,000 per person.
The 21 people are taking home this whopping amount at a time when Nigeria has 10.5 million out-of-school children, more than the entire population of individual countries of Benin, Burundi, Togo, Eritrea, Sierra Leone, Libya, Central African Republic, Congo, Liberia, Mauritania, Namibia, Botswana, Gambia, Equatorial Guinea, Lesotho, Gabon, Guinea-Bissau, Mauritius, Swaziland and Djibouti. Note that the inability of the children to go to school is attributed to poor funding in the education sector.
Twenty one people are cantankerously taking home such an amount when 97% of Nigeria’s population is at risk of contracting malaria and 300,000 children die annually, according to Nigeria Malaria Fact Sheet released by the US Embassy in Nigeria.
The same 21 people enjoy such an outrageous salary at a time when patient-doctor ratio in Nigeria is 1 to 4,000 (i.e. one doctor is taking care of four thousand people). As if that was not enough, Nigeria pays its legislators more than ten top economies in the world, namely the US, China, Japan, Germany, France, UK, Brazil, Italy, Russia and India.
These bunch of cynical, domineering, tactless and intolerant looters called lawmakers are the same people who deliberately ejected out some important projects in the 2016 budget just because this time around there is no “Ghana-must-go”. To prove their arrogance, the unrepentant looters shamelessly told Nigerians that the missing projects were not included ab initio, until one of them rebuffed their indolence and treachery. They also went ahead to increase their constituency allowances which usually end up in their pockets.
What is more painful is the fact that despite all the pervasive criminality from a retardant atavistic crop of people, Nigerians have failed to hold them to account for their malfeasance. They are continuously being celebrated for their continuous siphoning of public funds in an already traumatized economy—an indication that there is a reward for being corrupt.
We either come out en masse demand accountability and confront these gullible and impulsive set of criminals or subject our generations unborn to continuous servitude and bondage, or at worst—perish as fools.
Haruna Mohammed Salisu writes from Bauchi. He can be reached at 08063180608 or [email protected]