Due to paucity of funds probably occasioned by the current economic recession, former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, General Ibrahim Babangida, Goodluck Jonathan, and others have not been paid their salaries and allowances by the Federal Government since January this year.
The disclosure which came as a rude shock to members of the Senate Committee on Federal Character and Inter-Governmental Affairs chaired by Senator Tijjani Yahaya Laura (Zamfara, APC), was made by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir David Lawal, during an oversight visit to the office of the SGF in Abuja yesterday.
Lawal attributed the development to lack of funds in Service Wide Votes.
“There is a department responsible for payment of former presidents. Presently funds are not available in service wide votes to do that. We are aware there was a protest in Bayelsa state that the former President was not paid, but we’ve explained that he’s not the only one affected.
“Others affected are Inter-Religious 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 SGF said.
But a source within the OSGF, who spoke to some journalists on condition of anonymity, said the non-payment of former presidents was due to lack of approval by incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari.
According to the source, payment schedules had severally been sent for the President’s assent in order to access funds in the Service Wide Vote for the purpose of the ex-leaders, but none has been responded.
Responding, Senators condemned the non-payment of the former presidents, insisting that joint efforts must be made between the office of the SGF and the committee towards finding a solution to the problem which they described as unfortunate.