A total of N13,805,814,220 has been proposed for the payment of pensions to former Presidents, Vice-Presidents, Heads of State, Chiefs of General Staff, retired heads of service, permanent secretaries, as well as retired heads of government agencies and parastatals in the 2023 fiscal year.
The beneficiaries include former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan, as well as Vice-Presidents Atiku Abubakar and Namadi Sambo, among others Saturday PUNCH has gathered.
Also expected to benefit from the windfall are ex-military Head of States, General Yakubu Gowon and General Abdusalami Abubakar, as well as former dictator and self-styled military President, General Ibrahim Babangida, and a former Chief of General Staff, Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe (retd.).
It is, however, not clear if the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), and his deputy, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, will benefit from the largesse as they will hand over power on May 29, 2023. Buhari served as Head of State between December 31, 1983 and August 27, 1985 before he was booted out of office in a palace coup.
In the 2023 appropriation budget appropriation, which was highlighted under the service wide vote of the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National planning, it was stated that a total of N2.3bn would be for “entitlements of former presidents/heads of states and vice-presidents/chief of general staff.”
An analysis of the proposal revealed that a total of N10.5bn would serve as “benefits of retired heads of service and permanent secretaries.”
The budget also revealed that a total of N1bn would be paid as “severance benefits to retired heads of government agencies and parastatals.”
At state level, governors and their deputies are also entitled to humongous pensions when they leave office and a number of former chief executives of the various states are known to be beneficiaries of the huge pensions, which include monthly payment, purchase of new vehicles, building of mansions and payment of domestic workers.
Mounting debt burden
Saturday PUNCH reports that the budget comes at a time when the government has continued to lament dwindling revenue amidst excess borrowing.
The country’s debt rose by N30.72tn between July 2015 and June 2022, according to data released by the Debt Management Office.
According to the DMO statistics, Nigeria’s total debt as of June 30, 2015 stood at N12.12tn. By June 30, 2022, the figure had risen to N42.84tn, which showed an increase of 253.47 per cent. Despite the high increase in debt over the years, the government still plans to borrow N8.4tn in 2023.
Just like the massive rise in debt, there has been a huge increase in expenditure under Buhari. The Federal Government has increased the projected expenditure in its annual budgets by about 238.45 per cent between 2016 and 2023, according to reports analysed by one of our correspondents.
According to data from the Budget Office of the Federation, the government budgeted to spend N6.06tn for the 2016 fiscal year. However, in the recently proposed 2023 budget, the projected aggregate expenditure was pegged at N20.51tn, more than thrice the amount budgeted in 2016.
In the 2023 budget, the government’s N17.12tn projected expenditure consists of N6.9tn recurrent expenditure, N5.9tn capital expenditure and N3.9tn for debt servicing. Statutory transfers amount to N744.11bn; non-debt recurrent costs, N8.27tn; personnel costs, N4.99tn; pensions, gratuities and retirees’ benefits, N854.8bn; overheads, N1.11tn; capital expenditure, including the capital component of statutory transfers, N5.35tn; debt service, N6.31tn; and sinking fund of N247.73bn to retire certain maturing bonds.
Source – Punch