Last week, news of the severance packages of President Goodluck Jonathan, Vice President Namadi Sambo, their aides, ministers, non-returning senators and members of the House of Representatives filtered out. It was reported that about N3.24billion has been set aside for the purpose of their collective severance. There is absolutely nothing wrong with paying severance packages, except that for one thing, the budget is not ready and secondly, they are coming at a time when the federal government is finding it difficult to fulfil its statutory obligation of the remuneration of its workers. And neither has the public been informed of the source of the money.
According to the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission, the president and all included in this package are entitled to 300 per cent of their basic annual salaries by the end of their tenures in office, which is May 29 and June 5 2015. This means that the president will get a total sum of N10, 544, 115 after May 28, while the vice president will get N9, 069, 717. 50 the same day. This is aside the constitutional benefits Mr Jonathan will get for life as a former president of the country.
There are 42 senior and junior minsters in Jonathan’s cabinet, along with 113 presidential aides that serve the president, vice president and the first lady. The senior ministers will get N6, 079, 200; the junior, N5, 872, 740, bringing the total sum to N253, 967, 212, 50. There are 76 non-returning senators and they will get a total of N462, 019, 200 at N6, 07, 200 per senator. Members not returning total 290 and each will get N5, 955, 637 come June 5, when the seventh assembly would have come to an end.
The question is, where will this amount of money come from, given that a number of civil servants retired from service are still waiting to collect not their pension, but severance allowances? Again, in a political economic system where the president and his vice spend next to nothing if at all on their personal upkeep we call for a re-evaluation of the status quo, for the sake of equity. It is curious that the president, his vice and their aides find money to set aside towards their severance, whereas the government has failed consistently to reimburse those who have given the better and more productive years of their lives to the service.
We defer to the fact that having served this nation in their respective capacities, they surely deserve to be paid. But who is paying for the services of the aides of the first lady whose office is unconstitutional? And we beg to disagree with the time frame for payment of these packages. In our opinion, they can wait until the economy improves and salaries and allowances of those civil servants who have gone without for a while are paid. This would be most magnanimous of the president.
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