By Kehinde Olatunji
30 August 2023 | 5:06 am
President Bola Tinubu’s recent expansion of his cabinet, featuring a mix of fresh blood and old cargos, has ignited a debate over balancing assets and liabilities amidst Nigeria’s economic challenges, KEHINDE OLATUNJI analyzes.
President Bola Tinubu’s recent appointment of a larger cabinet, combined with political loyalists and experienced officials, has raised questions about the alignment of these choices with his earlier austere policies and calls for Nigerians to endure economic hardships, KEHINDE OLATUNJI examines.
Tinubu’s cabinet now boasts 48 ministers, 20 Special Advisers, and several other appointees, marking the largest set of appointments since the return of democracy in 1999. Critics argue that while this move may be seen as a reward for election support, it contradicts the prevailing economic challenges demanding reduced governance costs.
According to the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), a minister’s monthly salary stands at N650,135.99, equating to a yearly sum of N7,801,640. This comprises the basic salary, motor vehicle fueling, personal assistance, domestic staff, entertainment, utilities, monitoring, and newspaper expenses.
However, this basic salary doesn’t encompass other allowances and benefits. Reports indicate a budget of about N16 billion for procuring vehicles, including Toyota Landcruiser, Prado Jeep, and Hilux trucks, for each of the 48 ministers.
Additionally, the National Assembly is reportedly spending N40 billion on 465 exotic and bulletproof cars for principal officers and members. Ministers and Special Advisers also receive allowances for accommodation, furniture, severance gratuity, leave, and motor vehicles.
Critics raise concerns about the mounting costs, especially considering Nigeria’s high inflation rates. Despite calls for reduced governance costs, President Tinubu’s administration chose to expand its cabinet. Notably, this contrasts with his predecessors, who generally opted for smaller cabinets.
Addressing this choice, President Tinubu mentioned to Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) President Joe Ajaero that the appointments align with job creation and discussed personal attempts to manage expenses. However, some believe that maintaining ministers with alleged corruption allegations might undermine governance credibility.
Economists suggest that the restructuring of ministries necessitated more ministerial appointments. Yet, the focus should be on ensuring accountability, responsibility, and a significant return on investment from these appointments.
In conclusion, while the expanded cabinet aims to address specialized areas, Nigerians hope for accountable, efficient, and honest ministers who will collaboratively work towards bettering the nation. It remains to be seen how the President’s vision for this extensive cabinet aligns with the nation’s aspirations.