25 July 2013
by Habeeb I. Pindiga & Nuruddeen M. Abdallah
Nigerian ministers receive higher salaries and allowances than their counterparts in Britain, United States, South Africa and other stronger economies, relative to the country’s wealth, according to an investigation by Daily Trust using official data from several sources.
A Nigerian minister soaks up N32 million (about $200,000) in yearly emoluments, more than 120 times the country’s gross domestic product per person (GDP).
This means that a minister picks up a package that equals over 120 times what each Nigerian citizen is worth when the nation’s total wealth is shared by the population.
In these terms, the cost of maintaining a minister here by far overtakes what obtainsin Singapore which pays the one of the highest packages globally. A Singaporean minister receives about N240 million yearly but this is only 28 times the country’s GDP per person.
A minister (secretary) in the United States is paid about N31.84 million yearly, a little less than the Nigerian ministerial package but amounting to just 3.9 times the GDP per person in the US.
South Africa pays N31 million, while Australia pays N22 million to a minister amounting to 2.1 times of GDP per person in that country.
Euro Zone’s biggest economy Germany pays about the same amount as Nigeria, while Britain pays a slightly higher amount of cash of about N33million but this is only 2.4 times its GDP per person.
Nigerian ministers are even ahead of heads of government in very wealthy nations like Britain and France, whose Prime Ministers receive about N30 million yearly.
In Canada, a minister’s salary is 4.5 times the country’s GDP per capita, though he receives N38 million per annum – a higher amount of cash than Nigeria’s.
The gap is even more striking when the Nigerian minister is compared with his colleagues in less strong economies, like Ghana’s which pays N9 million to a minister – just 35 times its GDP per person.
The result of Daily Trust’s investigation on ministers’ perks is coming few days after the paper published details of similar fact-cat salaries enjoyed by senators and House of Representatives members which place them on the top spot in global MPs’ salaries chart.
According to records of the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), a Nigerian minister of state receives N30 million ($189, 735) yearly in salaries and allowances, slightly less than his substantive cabinet minister.
With 30 ministers and 12 ministers of states in President Jonathan’s cabinet, the Federal Government spends more than N1.3 billion yearly to maintain the ministers.
The senior and junior ministers receive about N960 million and N360 million per annum respectively in legitimate perks.
But RMAFC had said ministers illegally receive much more money, through frivolous trips, maintenance of fleet of vehicles and other costs.
Documents show that a minister receives an annual basic salary of N2 million, accommodation N4 million, vehicle loan N8 million, furniture allowance N6 million, utility N607, 920, vehicle maintenance N1.5 million, entertainment N911, 880 and leave allowance N202,640.
The minister also receives N506, 600 for personal assistants, N1.5 million for domestic staff, N303, 960 for newspapers and N6 million as severance gratuity.
For their parts, ministers of state get each N1.9 million as basic salary, N3.9 million for accommodation, N7.7 million for vehicle loan, N5.8 million for furniture, N587, 274 for utility, N1.4 million for vehicle maintenance, N587, 274 for entertainment and N195,758 for leave allowance.
The junior ministers also receive N489, 395 for personal assistants, N1.4 million for domestic staff, N293, 637 for newspapers and N5.8 million as severance gratuity.
In addition, the minister is entitled to N35, 000 as duty tour allowance (DTA) while minister of state receives N30, 000 per day. For foreign trips, a minister receives $1,000 per day while a minister of state receives $900.
While these should be all they are entitled to, government officials take lots more, according to then-RMAFC chairman Hamman Tukur in 2009 when he presented a report proposing reduction of emoluments of public officers.
Apart from their salaries and allowances, ministers also spend public funds to buy exotic cars for themselves despite the monetisation policy, which expects most of them to buy vehicles only from the allowances paid to them.
Commenting on the revelation regarding salaries of ministers and lawmakers, executive director of Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, said the ministers’ jumbo pay, just like the lawmakers’, has sparked anger and tension given the state of the economy, poverty, unemployment and poor condition of service for workers.
“Clearly this is part of the reasons why some people want to go in to politics so that they can earn both legitimate and illegitimate allowances which is not commensurate with their work and performance and in the process politics becomes do or die affairs,” he said.
“There is no justification for our lawmakers, ministers and political appointees to earn this huge amount of money when other developed and developing nation’s lawmakers and political appointees are not earning near what our rulers collect as their pay especially since our economy is not good enough to sustain such payment.
“Again when you look at our lawmakers their legislative roles and performance in terms of law making, representation, constituency outreach (accountability to the electorates) and oversight this huge payment is not justifiable.
“CISLAC is of the opinion that lawmakers must not fix their salaries and allowances as we have an agency responsible for doing that for public officers. But it is ridiculous and unfair for them to continue extorting our economy,” he added.