Junior Defence Minister, Musiliu Obanikoro, Lies About Own Annual Pay: Campaigning, Rather Than Handle Security

Apr. 22, 2014

Ini Ekott, PremiumTimes

The Minister of State for Defence, Musiliu Obanikoro’s claim on a television programme Monday that he draws N4 million annually as salary and allowances, is false, PREMIUM TIMES can authoritatively report today.

Mr. Obanikoro, alongside other Nigerian ministers, earn far ahead of that figure according to government schedule of remuneration for ministers, and in four probable rates computed by this newspaper based on stipulated guidelines, the lowest amount a minister could take home is N6.59 million per annum and the upper limit may hit N12.97 million or more.

The rates include a minister’s basic salary, and allowances for accommodation, motor vehicle fuelling and maintenance, entertainment, utility and newspaper/periodicals. The upper limit reflects payment for furniture and an official car.

But speaking on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, Monday, Mr. Obanikoro said his basic salary as minister is N2 million, and N4million if allowances are included.

The minister, who joined the cabinet less than two months ago, cited the figure as he ridiculed the Lagos State government’s claim of constructing low-cost houses for residents.

Mr. Obanikoro said the claim is deceptive as the buildings were being sold by the Lagos authorities for N16 million per two-bedroom apartment, and as such cannot be categorized as “low-cost”.

Mr. Obanikoro is an outspoken critic of the Lagos State governor, Babatunde Fashola.

“How can a governor in good conscience tell me that a N16 million two-bedroom flat is low cost?” he asked during the programme. He said even as minister, earning N2 million, he could not afford the new houses.

“When Alhaji Jakande was governor, I bought a form for 1 Naira 50kobo, I was a clerk working in Union Bank, he actually built for the poor. I bought a form, I bought a flat, and you paid 1,500 Naira to be a house owner at that time.”

When the presenters of the programme asked him whether he arned N2million or N$2million, the minister insisted, “My annual salary is N2 million, everything put together plus my allowances is N4 million”.

The claims do not conform to rates provided by the Revenues Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission, RMAFC, the government body responsible for specifying the earnings of political office holders and judicial workers.

Under the 2008 Remuneration Act, ministers are classified alongside the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, the Head of Service and Chairpersons of statutory bodies such as INEC and National Human Rights Commission.

Those officials receive N2.026 million as basic annual salaries and their allowances cover an array of privileges stretching from accommodation to estacodes.

Allowances Case 1

The calculations cover only the basic salary, accommodation (200 percent of basic); motor vehicle fuelling and maintenance (75 percent of basic); entertainment (45 percent of basic), utility (30 percent) and newspaper/periodicals (15 percent of basic).

The minister’s salary here would translate to N9.4 million per year.

Case 2

In 2009/2010, the federal government announced cuts in earnings of public office holders. The revenue commission proposed that the basic salary remain same as above, accommodation be reduced to 150 percent; motor vehicle fuelling and maintenance 50 percent; entertainment scrapped and provided by government; utility 25 percent; and newspaper/ periodicals 15 percent- all of the basic salary.

An official of the commission told PREMIUM TIMES the proposal was never implemented.

If it ever was, then the minister should earn N6.6 million per year.

Cases 1 and 2 do not cover other allowances such as furniture (since the amount is to be paid every four years); car loan (every four years); estacode and duty tour allowances (since they are to be earned only during travels); domestic staff and personal assistants (since the allowances are in turn paid to beneficiaries); leave allowance and severance gratuity.

Case 3

However, should furniture and car loan be included as they still represent the minister’s earnings though coming after four years, then based on the 2008 Remuneration Act, which provides furniture (300 percent of basic) and car (400 percent of basic), then the minister’s earning will translate to N12.97 million.

That is with the furniture and car loans spread across four years.

Case 4

If the payment is based on the new proposal by RMFAC, then with car and furniture, the minister’s earning would be N8.6 million.