While Nigeria prepares for a revenue shortage in 2021, with plans to borrow about a quarter of the year’s budget expenditure, the country will spend around N7.8 billion on entitlements, severance allowances and other perquisites to be given to the nation’s former leaders, details of the assented 2021 budget have shown.
According to PREMIUM TIMES, planned 2021 spending is the second-lowest amount that will be allocated to retired top government officials since 2017, when N5.9 billion was budgeted as gratuity for them.
The money is a yearly ritual in the nation’s budgetary cycle, and by the end of this year, it would have cost Nigeria about N68.8 billion in five years.
This year, of the total N7.8 billion, former heads of state, presidents and their respective deputies will earn a combined entitlement of N2.3 billion.
This is the same amount that has been approved for the former leaders since 2017, save 2018 when they got N7.3 billion.
The appropriation is in accordance with the remuneration for the former Presidents’ Act, which offers a slew of luxuries which have been faulted by some, especially because four in every ten Nigerians earn less than N377 per day, and the unemployment rate reached a record high last year as the country keeps struggling to diversify its economy to shore up its revenue base.
As upkeep allowance, the act mandates the monthly payment of N350,000 to former presidents and N250,000 to former vice-presidents and chiefs of general staff, and this is subject to a review whenever there is an increase in the salary of the serving president.
Also, the families of all deceased former presidents are entitled to an annual allowance of N1 million payable as N250,000 per quarter, while the families of deceased former deputies get N750,000 per annum payable in the sum of N187,500 per quarter.
"The allowances shall be applied for the upkeep of the spouse and education of the children of deceased former heads of state and deceased former vice-presidents up to the university level," the act reads.
However, if the spouse of the deceased leader remarries, they stop getting the allowance.
In the same vein, the nation’s retired heads of service and permanent secretaries will get a combined N4.5 billion as benefits this year.
This is an increase from the N3.6 billion the former officials got in 2018, and N2.6 billion in 2017.
Also, for the fifth year running, retired heads of government agencies and parastatals will share among themselves N1 billion as severance benefits.