THE Federal Government has spent at least N15.3 billion on the upkeep of former Presidents, Vice Presidents and their families over a period of 13 years.
The figure covers the former leaders’ pension, medicare, yearly foreign vacation, offices and general maintenance. This is besides the N500,000 each of the former leaders is paid whenever they attend the council of state meeting, which is held periodically.
THE WELFARE IN TRAJECTORY
Allocations for the former leaders’ welfare began in 2005 when total amount of N140 million was set at side for them in that year’s budget. Subsequently, the following allocations were made: N105 million (2006), N24 million (2008, the lowest), N250 million (2009). Although no allocation was made in the 2007 budget, it may have been integrated into another item under the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
Funds allocated to entitlements of former presidents/heads of state, former vice presidents or chiefs of general staff rose rapidly to the peak in 2012, when former President Goodluck Jonathan’s government budgeted N3.185 billion for the welfare of the ex-leaders — from a modest N140 million in 2005. Between 2013 and 2017, the allocation was constant at N2.3 billion per year.
Apart from these entitlements, the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation has allocated the sum of N986.19 million between 2016 and 2018 for the purchase of cars for the nation’s seven former presidents/heads of state and four vice presidents.
N500,000 COUNCIL OF STATE MEETING ALLOWANCE
Apart from the N15.3 billion welfare package, each of the former leaders — and they automatic members of the Council of State — collects N500,000 whenever he attends the meeting, which holds at least twice yearly and at most six times a year to review and take decisions on crucial issues affecting the country.
Membership of the council, according to Section 153 of the 1999 constitution as amended, comprises the President who shall be the Chairman, the Vice President who shall be the Deputy Chairman, and all former presidents of the federation and former heads of government.
It also includes all former chief justices of Nigeria, the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the 36 states Governors and the Attorney General of the Federation.
The former presidents and heads of state are General Yakubu Gowon, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, General Ibrahim Babangida, Chief Ernest Shonekan, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, General Olusegun Obasanjo, and Dr. Goodluck Jonathan.
The former vice presidents and chiefs of general staff are Dr. Alex Ekwueme (late), Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe, General Oladipupo Diya, Alhaji Abubakar Atiku and Alhaji Namadi Sambo.
ORIGIN OF THE WELFARE PACKAGE
Adapted from the US, which has an elaborate welfare package for former rulers, Nigeria started paying entitlements to former presidents by Decree 32 of 1999. In 2001, it became the Remuneration of former Presidents, heads of Federal legislative Houses and Chief Justices of the Federation (and other Ancillary Matters) Act.
The Act was further amended by the National Assembly in 2008 and 2010, with the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission, RMAFC mandated to fix the remunerations of the ex-leaders from time to time in line with economic realities, especially whenever the salary of the serving President is raised.
In the beginning, the 1999 law provided that each former President and former Head of state should be entitled to N350,000 per month, while former vice presidents and former chiefs of general staff are entitled to N250,000 per month for their upkeep.
The Act states: “As from the commencement of this Act, all former-Presidents and Heads of State of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (in this Act referred to as ‘former Heads of State’) shall be-(i) paid the sum of N350,000 per month as up-keep allowance; and (ii) entitled to the perquisites of office specified in Part I of the Schedule to this Act; and
“(b)Vice-Presidents and Chiefs of General Staff of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (in this Act referred to as ‘former Vice-Presidents”) shall be- (i) paid the sum of N250,000 per month as up-keep allowance; and (ii) entitled to the perquisites of office specified in Part II of the Schedule to this Act'”
There are also provisions for domestic staff, security aides, vehicles and upkeep allowances for families of deceased presidents.
FOR FORMER PRESIDENTS
For instance, each former President is entitled to an officer not below the rank of a chief administrative officer, a personal secretary not below Grade Level 12, three to four armed policemen, one Department State Service (DSS) officer not below Grade Level 10 as an Aide de Camp to be attached for life and paid by the state security agencies, three vehicles to be bought by the Federal Government and liable to be replaced every four years, and drivers to be paid by the Federal Government.
They and their immediate families are also entitled to free medical treatment within the country, or treatment abroad where necessary, at Federal Government’s expense. They are also entitled to a well-furnished and equipped office in any location of their choice in Nigeria, a well-furnished five-bedroom house in any location of their choice in Nigeria, and 30 days annual vacation at home or abroad.
FOR FORMER VICE PRESIDENTS
For former vice presidents, the entitlements include: an officer not below the rank of a chief administrative officer, a personal secretary not below Grade Level 10, two to three armed policemen, one DSS officer not below Grade Level 8 as an Aide de Camp to be attached for life and paid by the state security agencies, two vehicles to be replaced every four years, drivers to be selected by the former Vice-President and paid by the Federal Government, free medical treatment for them and their immediate families within Nigeria, treatment abroad where necessary, 30 days annual vacation within and outside Nigeria at Federal Government’s expense, a modestly well-furnished and equipped office in any location of their choice in Nigeria, a well-furnished three-bedroom house in any location of their choice in Nigeria.
According to the 1999 act that has been amended, the remuneration of the former leaders shall be subject to review whenever there is an increase in the salary of the serving President and Vice-President; and the Federal Government shall, in its annual budget, make provision for the remuneration of former heads of state and former vice-presidents.
In the case of death, the family of an ex-president is entitled to the sum of N1,000,000 per annum payable in the sum of N 250,000 per quarter, and the deceased former Vice-President’s the sum of N750,000 per annum payable in the sum of N187, 500 per quarter.
The allowances applied to the upkeep of the spouse and education of the children of deceased former leaders up to the university level. However, the spouse of a former leader shall not be entitled to the allowance, if she re-marries.