- President never walked out on us – Minister
- Denies N30m accommodation allowance per minister
Against the backdrop of lack of residential accommodation for Ministers in President Muhammadu Buhari cabinet, the federal government is to embark on the construction of official quarters befitting ministerial appointees of government. This is coming just as the government debunked allegations that the President walked out the ministers when they made a demand on him for the Sum of N30million ( Thirty Million Naira) for each minister to secure a befitting residential accommodation in Abuja.
According to media reports, Minister of Youth and Sports, Solomon Dalung had led ministers to demand for approval of their financial request of N30 million per annum per person to settle their accommodation issues but that mid-way into the meeting, Buhari rejected the demand, stood up and walked out on them.
In a telephone interview, Dalung told Nigerian Pilot that the news report was from the imagination of mischief makers as according to him, no such incident occurred between cabinet members and the president.
He said; “that story trending in the media is not true. It must be from the imagination of mischief makers.”
“Every minister”, he continued, “by virtue of his/her appointment letter has all entitlements well spelt out”; and as such, there could not have been any reason for the claim in the media report.
“ It is true we have accommodation problem; and this interaction has been ongoing. We drew the President’s attention to it. He promised he was going to look into it and get back to us. It was only a reminder. He did not walk out on us.”, Dalung said.
The minister said that the president favoured the approach that would house ministers in official residential quarters as against the practice of paying them huge allowances and/or lodging them in hotels at great expense to government. He added also that the administration was not inclined to the idea of selling government houses to ministers.
“We are going to look at the possibilities of building quarters for ministers because the idea of selling buildings off to members is not favourable to this administration.” He stated.
In the recent past, ministers were accommodated in official quarters at federal government expense just like in states where there are commissioner’s quarters. But all that changed with the monetization policy of former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration. Under the policy, occupants of federally-owned official residences were given the right of first refusal to buy houses they resided in. As a result , government officials including ministers, federal legislatures, permanent secretaries down to junior civil servants bought government houses at reduced costs. Even automobiles and other government properties were sold out.
Hence, sprawling official houses atop Ministers’ Hill Maitama, and Ministers Quarters Mabushi all in Abuja were bought over.
In subsequent administrations, ministers were paid allowances to either buy or rent their houses while some preferred to live in hotels.