Amid Massive Borrowing & Dwindling Tevenue FG To Spend N13.8bn On Obasanjo, Jonathan, IBB, Atiku, Others In 2023

Amid massive borrowing and dwindling revenue the Federal Government of Nigeria plans to spend N13.8bn on former Presidents, Vice-Presidents, Heads of State, Chiefs of General Staff, retired heads of service, permanent secretaries, as well as retired heads of government agencies and parastatals in the 2023 fiscal year.

Those that will benefit from the budget are former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan, as well as Vice-Presidents Atiku Abubakar and Namadi Sambo, according to a report by The Punch.

Also expected to benefit are ex-military Head of States, General Yakubu Gowon and General Abdusalami Abubakar, as well as former dictator and self-styled military President, General Ibrahim Babangida, and a former Chief of General Staff, Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe (retd.).

It is still unclear if President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, will benefit from the largesse as they will hand over power on May 29, 2023. Buhari however served as Head of State between December 31, 1983 and August 27, 1985 before he was overthrown.

According to the report, in the 2023 appropriation budget appropriation, which was highlighted under the service wide vote of the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National planning, it was stated that a total of N2.3bn would be for “entitlements of former presidents/heads of states and vice-presidents/chief of general staff.”

An analysis of the proposal revealed that a total of N10.5bn would serve as “benefits of retired heads of service and permanent secretaries.”

The budget also revealed that a total of N1bn would be paid as “severance benefits to retired heads of government agencies and parastatals.”

At the state level, governors and their deputies are also entitled to humongous pensions when they leave office and a number of former chief executives of the various states are known to be beneficiaries of the huge pensions, which include monthly payment, purchase of new vehicles, building of mansions and payment of domestic workers.

comes at a time when the government has continued to lament dwindling revenue amidst excess borrowing.

The country’s debt rose by N30.72tn between July 2015 and June 2022, according to data released by the Debt Management Office.

According to the DMO statistics, Nigeria’s total debt as of June 30, 2015 stood at N12.12tn. By June 30, 2022, the figure had risen to N42.84tn, which showed an increase of 253.47 per cent. Despite the high increase in debt over the years, the government still plans to borrow N8.4tn in 2023.

Just like the massive rise in debt, there has been a huge increase in expenditure under Buhari. The Federal Government has increased the projected expenditure in its annual budgets by about 238.45 per cent between 2016 and 2023, according to reports analysed by one of our correspondents.

According to data from the Budget Office of the Federation, the government budgeted to spend N6.06tn for the 2016 fiscal year. However, in the recently proposed 2023 budget, the projected aggregate expenditure was pegged at N20.51tn, more than thrice the amount budgeted in 2016.

In the 2023 budget, the government’s N17.12tn projected expenditure consists of N6.9tn recurrent expenditure, N5.9tn capital expenditure and N3.9tn for debt servicing. Statutory transfers amount to N744.11bn; non-debt recurrent costs, N8.27tn; personnel costs, N4.99tn; pensions, gratuities and retirees’ benefits, N854.8bn; overheads, N1.11tn; capital expenditure, including the capital component of statutory transfers, N5.35tn; debt service, N6.31tn; and sinking fund of N247.73bn to retire certain maturing bonds.

Meanwhile, the Coordinator, Advocates for Peoples Rights and Justice, Victor Giwa, said former Presidents and Heads of State should exclude themselves from such benefits, adding that the money should be used to revive Nigeria’s dwindling economy.

“It is by the provisions of the constitution that they are enjoying this benefit. But if these former presidents and heads of states have this country in mind, knowing that the country is at the point of collapse economically, they should wave it. They’ve presided over the country and have benefited and are still benefiting from the country,” he said.

Also, the Convener, Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, Debo Adeniran, said, “Well, it is what they can do; it is highly insensitive of them; it is a bad example for other public servants. Despite all they had access to while they were in power with all the allowances, pension and gratuities paid, for them to accept such a humongous amount of money after retirement in this poverty-stricken period is a sign of sadism.

“It is not only insensitive, the government is culpable maybe because they believe that they have the knife and yam, not knowing that they are pushing Nigerians towards the wall and when that happens, Nigerians will strike back.

“I will also advice the President not to leave a legacy of profligacy that will continue to hunt him years after retirement from public service; he should leave a good name that will show him as considerate leader, who lived a modest life and left a legacy of modesty for those who will take after him. Finally, any past public officer that accepts that should be seen as insensitive and not taking into consideration the majority of Nigerians who are suffering under the present economic quagmire.”

Source: The Punch

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