My contribution on this matter of slashing salaries may run against the grain but it bears posting all the same.
What the Nigerian state has been sick of since soldiers took it over and turned it upside down is not excessive salaries, it has never been. ₦14 million salary per annum ($60,000) for the president of Nigeria is not in excess, just like ₦18,000 ($77.00) salary per month for junior civil servants is grossly inadequate.
The implication is that populist tokenism such as 50% reduction of already meager salaries will do precious little to salvage an economy hobbled by deep corruption, unjustifiable allowances for elected officials, huge travel expenses with paltry utility value, and licensed financial recklessness on the part of state and federal executives.
It is in these areas of huge waste that a government of change should focus its attention to reduce the cost of governance. For instance, a federal Minister travelling overseas on a 10 day conference is paid, in addition to an estacode of $900 per day, further $2000.00 as contingency allowance.
Several ministers spend 120 days overseas on average per annum thereby grossing $132,000 (₦31 million) from travel alone each year. The President and his deputy also travel extensively and more often than not, unnecessarily around the world, in search of foreign direct investment and similar silly reasons. This cost the treasury anywhere between $250,000 to $500,000 per day depending on the strength of his entourage.
The National Assembly is even worse when it comes to travel and inordinate expenses. Senators and legislators award themselves whimsical travel allowances after they have blackmailed some MDG to pay their tickets and statutory travel allowances. From the rank of Directors in the MDAs, travel is on business class while Ministers and Senators travel first class.
I always contrast this with top American officials including their Ambassadors, Senators, Congressmen, Directors and Under secretaries who must travel economy or make up the difference for themselves on official assignments overseas. Let me not mention the strength of Nigerian delegations to international conferences in some of which Nigeria had no business in the first instance. China with a population of 1.3 billion people sends about 500 delegates to the UN General Assembly every year, Nigeria with a questionable 170 million sends over 1000 persons to the UNGA , twice the Chinese figure.
Put these costs in perspective of our GDP and one begins to appreciate the brigandage that passes for public administration in Nigeria. So, Mr President, what our economy needs to rebound is not the populist tokenism of salary cuts, what it needs and urgently too, is a comprehensive review and reversal of the criminal allowances that public officials award themselves, including, if you don’t mind Sir, the so called security votes that the executive branch at federal and state levels impound and abuse.