Obasanjo, Jonathan, Others Owed 10 Months Allowances

Federal government has said it is owing former Presidents and ex-Heads of state including Goodluck Jonathan, Olusegun Obasanjo and Shehu Shagari allowances since January this year.

This was made know on Thursday when the members of the Senate Committee of Federal Character and Intergovernmental Affairs, led by Senator Tijjani Kaura, visited the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.

Explaining why the former heads of government were owed, the SGF, Babachir Lawal, said
it was due to unavailability of funds for the service-wide votes for salaries of ex-presidents.

He said, “There is a department responsible for the payment of former Presidents. Presently, funds are not available in service-wide vote to do that. We are aware there was a protest in Bayelsa that the former President (GEJ) was not paid and we have explained that he is not the only one affected.

“Others affected are the interreligious council, traditional rulers’ council and so on. For some reasons, we have been writing and writing but there has been no response. And there is presently no money to pay them.

“The budget for this year’s Democracy Day was N33m and we had to do it on credit; we have yet to pay. There are lots of retreats which ought to be organised but there’s no money to do any. The last time we got any release was in August.”

A source at the office of the SGF, who spoke on condition of anonymity, hinted that the non-payment of former presidents was due to the lack of approval by President Muhammadu Buhari.

According to the source, payment schedules have been sent to the President for his approval several times, which are needed to access funds in the service-wide vote for the purpose, but all attempts in that direction are to no avail.

The visiting senators dismissed Lawal’s explanation, insisting that efforts should be made between the Office of the SGF and the committee towards ensuring that the leaders were paid the arrears.

The lawmakers, who took turns to slam the SGF over the development, also emphasised the need to draw the attention of the Budget Office and the Ministry of Finance to the issue, with a view to having it addressed “immediately.”