This shocking revelation was made by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) whilst the Senate Committee on Federal Character and Inter-Governmental Affairs, led by Senator Tijjani Kaura (APC, Zamfara North) visited during her oversight functions.
The SGF, Mr David Lawal Babachir attributed the failure to pay the former leaders their entitlement to the unavailability of funds in Service Wide Votes for salaries of former presidents.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation said:
“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 that there was a protest in Bayelsa State that former President Goodluck Jonathan was not paid, but we have explained that he is not the only one affected.”
“Others affected are the Inter-religious council, traditional rulers council and so on. For some reason, 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 N33 million and we had to do it on credit, we are yet to pay. There are lots of retreats which ought to be organised but there is no money to do any. The last time we got any release was in August.”
The Senator Tijjani Kaura (APC, Zamfara North)-led committee members frowned at the non-payment of the former presidents’ entitlements.
They canvassed joint action between the Office of the SGF and the committee to find an immediate solution to the problem describing the development as “most unfortunate.”
The lawmakers also emphasised the need to draw the attention of the budget office and ministry of finance to the development with a view to having the issue addressed immediately.
Vice Chairman of the committee, Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi, described the non-payment of former presidents as abnormal.
“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 ministry of finance to the problems.”
A Governor of Sokoto State, Senator Aliyu Wamakko, also criticised the non-payment of former presidents by the office of the SGF.
“We can understand if former President Goodluck Jonathan has not been paid because he just left office. But for someone like Shagari, who lives from hand to mouth is something I can’t understand. This development is really unfortunate; It doesn’t indicate seriousness, and it doesn’t indicate fairness.”