President Buhari And The Cost of Running Government

The highly industrious Baba Yemi wakes up every morning thinking how he will struggle to cater for his wife and children in order to fulfill their usual 0-1-0 pattern of feeding (no breakfast, there might be lunch, no dinner). Meanwhile, the story is not different for the brilliant Chioma who is begging to have a better higher education so that her dreams of a great future could come true, but there are no funds and ‘connection’.

What about the very resourceful Adamu who graduated from the university many years ago with excellent grades butyet to be gainfully employed? (Even though he has fantastic business ideas, there is no capital or leverage to take off and build his desired business outfit).

You will agree with me that these depict some of the hardships being faced by tens of millions of Nigerians every day. Poverty at its peak!

It could have been understandable if the people we (including Baba Yemi, Chioma and Adamu) voted into power to manage our resources on our behalf do so judiciously and live a modest lifestyle. But that’s not the case! The total amount spent on the emolument of public officials in Nigeria is enough to bring millions of Nigerians out of abject poverty.

According to media reports, Nigerian Air Force aircraft is the third largest in the country after Aero Contractors with 14 and Arik Air which is the largest commercial airline in Nigeria with a fleet of 23 aircraft. You know it is actually very shocking to grab the fact that the Presidential Air Fleet has over e-l-e-v-e-n aircraft.

If I may ask just like every other Nigerian, “Can the president, his Vice, Senate President or Speaker of the House board more than one plane at a time. Obviously, that’s not possible! Then why spend over #12 billion every year to maintain such a huge ‘burden’?

It’s on record that the British prime minister of United Kingdom has no presidential aircraft. Instead, members of the British government charter the British Airways or Virgin Atlantic most times. It’s the same for the president, prime minister and government officials of Singapore and Chief Executive of Honk Kong who mostly travel on regular scheduled commercial airlines.

The presidential fleets of countries like India, South Korea have four aircraft while that of Canada and South Africa operate five. The government of Tunisia has two aircraft in the presidential fleet and it’s interesting to note that they are reportedly trying to sell both.

We are eagerly waiting to see Nigeria follow the path of Tunisia and have the Presidential Air Fleet reduced reasonably.

Having talked about that, let’s take a look at the cost of maintaining the overwhelming political and public officials in the country. Federal Lawmakers (Senators and House of Representatives Members), Ministers and Presidential Aides receive huge amount of emoluments.

It’s also strange that they collect several allowances that are six times more than their basic salaries. We learnt from Elementary Mathematics that 100% is absolute i.e. no percentage is higher than 100. But to my utmost surprise, Nigerian public officials collect some allowances that are as high as 200% to 300% of their basic salaries. Isn’t that a clear abracadabra?!

According to http://www.punchng.com/news/ministers-aides-allowances-surpass-basic-pay-six-times “each minister and presidential aide is entitled to 15 types of allowances. The annual allowances of each minister that monetized are #12,678,764 as against an annual salary of #2,026,400 while monetized allowances of each presidential aide is #12,142,968.75 as against an annual salary of #1,942,875.”

To further add salt to this deep wound, Nigeria has an unnecessarily large number of ministers and ministries. Previous governments, starting from 1999, appointed 42 ministers- picking one from each of the six geo-political zones in addition to one from each of the 36 states of the federation. As it stands, 28 ministries and 542 agencies are being sustained by the Federal Government.

A staggering revelation was made by the report of Ahmed Joda-led transition committee of the All Progressives Party (APC).

As made available by http://www.thecable.ng/exclusive-joda-committee-asks-buhari-appoint-19-senior-ministers the report posited: “There is no direct relationship between the number of ministries and efficacy of service delivery. The US with a population of 316 million and with GDP of $17,328 trillion (30 times Nigeria’s GDP) has 15 ministries. India has 24 ministries, while the UK has 17.” Just imagine that!

It is very funny and pathetic that a country like Nigeria which is still struggling to stabilize her democracy is spending such a huge amount of money on public officials even more than the United States and United Kingdom. Na wa oooo!

Like many other well meaning Nigerians, I expect President Buhari to reduce the number of aircraft in the Presidential Air Fleet; reduce the allowances of ministers and presidential aides; review and implement the committee reports of Ahmed Joda (which suggested that federal ministries should be reduced to 19) and Stephen Oronsaye (which gave recommendations on civil service reforms) as soon as possible.

To our amiable president, we are eagerly waiting for all these reforms so that Nigeria can once again begin to rise. Once this is done, we would believe that the #Change we voted for is indeed on the way. No more, no less. God bless Nigeria abundantly!


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