Obasanjo, Babangida, Other Ex-Heads Of State May Forfeit Entitlements

Source: EMMA UCHE. - thewillnigeria.com
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ABUJA, Feb 16, (THEWILL) - Presidents and ex-Military Heads of States may not get their perks and other allowances this year if the Senate panel in-charge of approving the budget for their entitlements carries out its threat not to implement the policy.

The Senate Committee on Federal Character today threatened to stop lobbying for funds for them in the 2011 budget.

Chairman of the Senate Committee on Federal Character Senator Smart Adeyemi (PDP, Kogi) today declared before a delegation from the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation at a budget defence hearing that he is unable to defend the request to approve such largesse for the former leaders.

Former presidents - including military heads of states, their wards and spouses were provided for in the Act enacted by the National Assembly last year, to earn perks that would cost the nation about N2 billion for a start. Already, N1.2billion was proposed for the programme in the 2011 budget.

Recall that Senator Adeyemi had opposed the bill, arguing that the past presidents do not deserve such privileges because they are already very comfortable and may not entirely exonerate themselves from the seeming mismanagement of Nigeria.

"My conscience will not allow me to champion it," he told the delegation adding hat the past leaders should sacrifice the perk for the development of Nigeria and employment of youths, which they failed to provide during their reigns.

"Tell them to sacrifice," he said. "The hospitals have no drugs, the roads are bad, there is no electricity, and most graduates are unemployed."

Currently, there are seven living former heads of state, five vice presidents, six families of deceased presidents and two families of deceased vice presidents on the payroll of the federal government. There are also five chiefs of staff to the presidents on the list.

According to Taiye Haruna, a Permanent Secretary who represented the head of service at the defence session, the ex presidents are to be provided with a 5-bedroom duplex in any city of their choice within Nigeria, allowance for their staff, and three vehicle to be replaced after every three years.

The ex presidents are also given medical treatment abroad and a luxurious treat whenever they are in Abuja.

"I feel that the past leaders are more than comfortable to request all these," Senator Adeyemi added.

"In a situation where there are a lot of unemployed graduates roaming the streets and threatening a revolution, rather than give this money to them, we should use it to generate employments," Adeyemi stated.

The principal Act which was recently amended, provided that these past leaders shall be paid an amount recommended from time to time by the Revenue and Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission and approved by the National Assembly as up-keep allowance in addition to the pension entitlement under the 1999 constitution.

This upkeep entitlement is expected to be reviewed (upwards) from time to time but subject to the approval of the National Assembly.

There is also a provision in the bill which entitles the family of deceased ex presidents and vice presidents to an annual payment for upkeep of his spouse(s) and education of their wards up to university level.

However, this spousal upkeep allowance will cease the moment the last spouse of the deceased passes on.

The law however restricts anybody who has held two offices that are eligible for the perk to only one - the highest of those offices which he/she held in order of national precedence.