The Muhammadu Buhari administration is yet to pay the allowance of ex Presidents and Heads of state including Goodluck Jonathan, Olusegun Obasanjo and Shehu Shagari for the last 10 months.
The Secretary General of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, revealed on Thursday that it was due to unavailability of funds for the service-wide votes for salaries of ex-presidents.
“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 State that the former President (Jonathan) 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, however, dismissed Lawal’s explanation, insisting that joint 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.”
The vice-chairman of the committee, Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi, described the non-payment of the former presidents as abnormal.
He said, “What we have seen here is an abnormality. Before referring any matter to the National Assembly, it is a function of the executive to appropriate funds. Therefore, the SGF should understand that there is something wrong in this office that must be addressed.
“There is no way you can run the expenses of this office without cash backing. We definitely have to draw the attention of the Budget Office and the Ministry of Finance to the problems.”
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