- Task President on promised 60m annual jobs, N5000, stipends
President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo’s recent cut of their salaries by half, yesterday attracted the attention of some prominent Nigerians, political parties and organised labour.
Although, they gave kudos to Buhari and Osinbajo for taking the initiative, they described the measure as too cosmetic to make any significant impact on Nigerians and the economy.
In separate interviews with Nigerian Pilot, three members of the House of Representatives, the Trade Union Congress, TUC and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, expressed divergent views on the pay cut by the Presidency.
The President was charged to make fundamental changes, such as a slash on his allowances, security votes, deliver on his promise to create 6omillion jobs (annually) and pay N5,000 stipends to unemployed Nigerians.
They also called for the blocking of leakages in the federal bureaucracy and cut in the high cost of governance.
The House of Representatives have described the recent pay cut by President Muhammadu Buhari as cosmetic and inconsequential in his bid to reduce the cost of governance by all means.
Buhari and Osinbajo last week announced 50 percent cut in their salaries.
According to the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission, RMAFC, the President’s annual remuneration is put at N14, 058, 820.00 while the Vice President earns N12million.
Hon. Linus Okorie (PDP, Ebonyi), yesterday told Nigerian Pilot that though the decision should be commended, it was a cosmetic approach in reducing cost of governance in the country.
Okorie noted that the decision was political and aimed at weeping up public sentiments.
The lawmaker wondered if the President’s pay cut would improve efficiency in civil service or reduce overheads of ministries and agencies.
“As much as one must commend the efforts of the President in slashing his salary, especially when it is done sacrificially, it is a cosmetic approach in reducing cost of governance as far as I am concerned, it has no impact.
“A President who earns over N14million annually to donate N7million and termed it as reducing cost of governance is unimpressive. I think it is a political decision just to weep up public sentiments. The decision has no impetus and it will certainly not contribute to low cost of governance. Will the move improve efficiency in civil service? Does it reduce overheads of ministries and agencies? Does it raise our capacity to use our resources to generate more and stop depending on the national cake?”
“What the President should do at this time is to come out with a policy thrust of his government to know if investors will come to Nigeria. We don’t have his security framework; whether Nigerians will feel at home or not. To me, the slash is very frivolous,” Okorie stated.
Former Deputy Majority Leader, Hon. Leo Ogor (PDP, Delta), described the President’s pay cut as inconsequential.
Ogor posited that “inasmuch as one would commend the President’s effort, the fact remains that it will not have any impact in reducing the cost of governance in the country.”
He stressed that there were so many socioeconomic issues Buhari needs to address which would save the country huge amounts of money and not just slashing his salary by 50 percent.
The lawmaker said he could not explain why Buhari had not formed his cabinet so that Nigerians can know the direction of his administration, adding that as far as he was concerned, the President had not hit the ground running.
On his part, Hon. Abdulrazak Namdaz (APC, Adamawa), maintained that the decision of the President to cut his salary was commendable and should be emulated by others.
Namdaz said the Vice President had followed suit, adding that it behoves on other Nigerians to make such sacrifices.
He added that the decision by the President to slash his salary by 50 percent was an indication that he was bent on reducing the cost of governance.
TUC President, Comrade Bobboi Bala Kaigama, admitted that the security votes usually allocated to political office holders, especially to the President and Vice President was due for critical check.
The labour leader explained that security votes are a global practice that was constitutionally provided to enable public office holders secure themselves, given the contemporary security challenges in the world.
“The public criticism of security votes and its use is not the main problem, but the abuse of it by previous governments. They have used the money to build an edge around themselves, thus distancing themselves from the people; they also use it to intimidate innocent people, whom they ought to serve. But henceforth, we will beam our searchlight on the office holders to ensure that the culture of abuse of the money (security votes) is changed.”
On the allowances of the office holders, Bobboi said that the offices of the President and Vice President are expected to enjoy certain allowances, due to the peculiarities of their positions.
He stated that the recent move by the President and Vice President to slash their salaries by 50 percent is their own prerogative. “All we need to do is to keep them in check to ensure that the money is deducted from source.”
The PDP admonished Buhari to focus on the promises he made to Nigerians and on policy thrusts which will move the economy forward instead of dissipating energy on unnecessary “propaganda, deceitful engagement and cosmetic governance.”
PDP National Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metuh, said in a statement that it had restrained itself from commenting on the activities of the Buhari administration because it is too soon to assess the new government but members of the All Progressives Congress, APC and media aides of the President had been bombarding the media with what they described as his achievements since he came into office.
“However, because of the overzealousness of your spokespersons and some members of your party in dramatising some imaginary achievements of your administration in a space of one month, there is need to put the records straight.
“We believe that one month is such a short time to assess any government, however, when this administration and your party started rolling out
premature scorecards of imaginary achievements, it became necessary for us and indeed most Nigerians to scrutinise them.
“We need to bring to your notice certain indices that if not properly corrected are capable of derailing the smooth running of your administration. It is incontrovertible that instead of focusing on the promises you made to Nigerians and on policy thrusts that will move our economy forward, the ruling party has been made to be very high on propaganda, deceitful engagement and cosmetic governance.
“We believe you should extricate yourself from these agents of propaganda who continue to believe that Nigerians would be swayed by these cosmetic interventions instead of real business of government.
“As leader of the most populous black nation in the world, we believe you should not allow your Presidency to be pushed into the gimmicks of playing to the gallery and attempting to use the dramatisation of promissory notes and pledges by foreign interests, false premature claims of victory against insurgency, dramatisation of salary cut and rejection of official cars, all to gain cheap popularity and create an impression that the government is on course when in the actual fact, the new administration has not been able to locate a bearing since its inauguration in May.
“While we appreciate the symbolic gesture by Mr. President in ‘cutting’ his N14million annual basic salary by 50 percent, it should be noted that Nigerians would not be wavered by the N7million annual donation and rejection of official cars, and forget their expectations for the implementation of his long list of campaign promises for which he was elected into office.
“The Presidency should know that these orchestration, no matter how populist it may seem, does not in any way address the burning issues of employment, worsening security situation, decline in the economy, avoidable inactivity in government businesses, and continued apparent slide of the naira which has dipped from under N200 to the dollar in May to an all time low of N238 under the APC administration among others.
“Moreover, Nigerians cannot be overwhelmed by the gestures, especially given that they are pretty aware that the salary is a mere drop in the ocean of personal allowances and privileges that come to the President.
They cannot therefore be deluded by impressions aimed to make government appear to be on course when it has only been a case of all motion, no movement, spiced with unnecessary excuses.”
PDP stressed that going by feelers, Nigerians have not been thrilled by such orchestrations as other leaders who at one time or the other, adopted similar stance but did not dither or become laidback, but hit the ground running with governance.
“What the citizens want is a government that is urgent in living up to its billings and campaign promises.
“Also, as a quick reminder, we wish to notify you that in line with your promises, Nigerians are still eager for information regarding the five million new jobs, monthly N5,000 stipend to 25million poor citizens, monthly allowances to discharged but unemployed youth corps members, free meals to school children and bringing the naira to the same value with the dollar; among other promises upon which you and your party gained access to power,” the party concluded.