The National Executive Council (NEC) of the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, (TUC) under the leadership of Comrade (Engr.) Festus Osifo views the jumbo severance pay for political office holders in the country as no different from organized state robbery.
While there has been resistance by patriotic Nigerians and organizations over the years against this assault on the coffers of the country in the name of severance package for political office holders, we are traumatized that this practice is further being entrenched.
The media reports that the severance packages of political office holders including President Muhammadu Buhari, Vice President YemiOsinbajo and the twenty-eight governors leaving in 2023 would cost the country N63 billion, is a wake-up call that a stop must be put to this unwholesome and unpatriotic practice.
Even this sum does not tell the whole scandal that is severance allowances. For instance, the severance package for a Lagos State governor which led to protests and a forced downward review, awarded each former governor six new cars every three years, a house in Lagos costing N750 million and one in Abuja at N1 billion and uncapped free medical treatment for them and their family. Other benefits were 100 per cent of annual basic salary, a cook, steward, gardener, and other domestic staff, who are also pensionable.Unfortunately, similar arrangements cut across federal and state governments, the executive and legislature, regions and political parties.
Another side of the scandal still exists with governors and national assembly members who get severance packages when they are likely to return for another tenure. Why pay severance to an ex-governor who is a serving senator? More harrowing is the fact that some of these beneficiaries are still pensioners of the public and private sectors.
Why should they earn such severance benefits in a country that has been adjudged the poverty capital of the world; a country that her tertiary institutions were shut down for eight months because of money; a country with almost 20 million out-of-school children according to the latest global data by UNESCO; a country where floods have destroyed farms, pulled down houses and increased the number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs)? Why should governors who cannot pay minimum wage receive severance package? Why should some ex-governors be paid 100 per cent of their annual basic salary for life after leaving office? These same people owed retirees arrears of the little pension they are legitimately entitled to. Such insensitivity! This profligacy must stop NOW!!
The Revenue Mobilization and Fiscal Allocation Commission, RMFAC, has severance package provisions for political office holders. Although the TUC is uncomfortable with this, more so when holding political office is a call to service, it is worst still intolerable that severance packages should become the legalized seizure of public funds for private purposes.In China most of our political elites would have had their wealth confiscated and sentenced to death for such recklessness because like crude oil theft, it is a national sabotage.
The sum of N63 billion naira annually to a few individuals in a country that leads the world from behind in almost all economic parameters including poor welfare for workers and retirees, is a shame! This is going to be one of the biggest heists in Nigeria history if allowed and we will not hesitate to call out our members to put a stop to it. Congress is vehemently opposed to this.It should not be business as usual.
The TUC calls for a drastic downward review of the severance packages of political office holders in the country. Also, it demands that the monthly allowances and salaries of such officials including legislators should be severely cut down as they are, scandalous, insensitive and can be likened to national sabotage.
Signed: Comrade (Engr.) Festus Osifo, President