As many Nigerians continue to wallow in hardship, the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, state governors, and their deputies may have enjoyed about N651.2m hardship allowance in the last eight years the Buhari regime, according to findings by The PUNCH.
The type of allowance, which is 50 per cent of the annual basic salary, is also enjoyed by judges in the country.
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However, The PUNCH report focuses on the amount allocated for the president, vice president, state governors, and their deputies, according to a document obtained from the website of the Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Allocation Commission.
The RMAFC document disclosed that the president is entitled to N1.76m annually as a hardship allowance. This means that within a period of eight years, Buhari would have earned N14.08m as hardship allowance.
The Vice President is entitled to N1.52m annually, which means that in eight years, Osinbajo would have earned N12.16m as hardship allowance.
While a state governor is entitled to N1.11m annually, a deputy state governor is entitled to N1.06m.
In eight years, the hardship allowance of the 36 state governors would have gulped N319.68m while that of their deputies would have gulped N305.28m.
As Buhari spends his last days in office, labour unions recently scored the regime and state governors low, saying they pauperised workers and inflicted hardship on Nigerians.
They lamented the galloping inflation in the country, which they said had eroded the 40 per cent pay rise recently approved by the Federal Government with effect from January.
The National Treasurer of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Hakeem Ambali, submitted that the outgoing regime had inflicted heavy hardship and suffering on the Nigerian workers.
According to him, the workers have suffered job losses, insecurity, economic hardship and other calamities under Buhari.
Ambali, who is also the President of the National Union of Local Government Employees, stated, “Under Buhari’s administration, just like every other successive administration, we have witnessed so many losses of jobs. Some governors laid off so many workers in the North, East and West. There has been a loss of lives as a result of banditry and kidnapping, especially in the South-East, South-West and in the whole North.
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“As for today from my union, the National Union of Local Government Employees, we reside and work within the remote part of the country; any attack on government installations and infrastructure affect our people. Most of them were kidnapped in Kaduna.
“Also, one will realise that the road network is so poor. The erratic power supply has also reduced chances of Nigerians getting their daily living.’’
The labour leader further observed the lack of social safety net in the country even as he scored the Buhari regime low in terms of fidelity to labour laws, citing the abuse of labour laws and practices by the government.
The Ogun State chapter of the Trade Union Congress and Nigeria Union of Pensioners scored the Buhari regime low in the areas of citizens’ welfare and wellbeing.
The state chairman of TUC, Akeem Lasisi, pointed out that the high cost of living had made nonsense of the minimum wage.
He said, “With the present high cost of living and hike in transportation and the rest, it seriously inflicted pains on the workers because the so-called minimum wage cannot take you anywhere. Workers are in serious pain because the salary can no longer take you anywhere.”
A report by the National Bureau of Statistics that about 133 million Nigerians live in poverty would be a recipe for a new dimension of hunger never witnessed in Nigeria, a civil society organisation under the aegis of the International Human Rights Commission recently warned.
While describing the report as a warning of a looming economic crisis in the country, the not-for-profit body stressed the need for government to empower people in the rural communities to reduce the rising poverty in Nigeria.
The Ambassador at Large and Head of Diplomatic Missions of IHRC in Nigeria, Dr Duru Hezekiah, warned that the poverty rate, if not urgently addressed, would be a recipe for disaster.
He said, “We are really in an economic crisis. And if it’s not checked, I tell you, the time is coming when will go into a fiasco, a time is coming when in fact, Nigeria will be declared a ‘hunger country’, and that is why we are still appealing to the government.”
Recently, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, said Nigerians will not die but will adjust to the economic hardships in the country.
In a statement, the minister noted that economic hardships were not peculiar to Nigeria alone but to the world at large also noted that the agitation by workers for more wages was not peculiar to Nigeria