Nigeria is buzzing with outrage as news spreads that the newly appointed 48 ministers could collectively earn a massive N8.6 billion in salaries and allowances over just four years.
The Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) confirms this staggering sum, raising concerns about its impact on the country’s finances.
Adding to the disquiet, there are fears that this staggering financial burden could escalate over time, further stoking the ire and censure of countless Nigerians. The magnitude of the ministers’ prospective earnings has emerged into the public eye in the wake of the RMAFC’s recent assessment of public servants’ compensation.
This revelation continues to provoke acrid reactions within the Nigerian populace, especially given the prevailing pledge of the current All Progressives Congress-led Federal Government to curb the cost of governance and uplift the living standards of its citizens.
Skeptical voices are questioning how the government’s promise of cost reduction can align with a scenario where 48 ministers would accumulate such an astronomical sum within just four years.
Critics argue that President Tinubu ought to have mirrored the precedent set by former President Goodluck Jonathan, who trimmed the ministerial count to a mere 33 during his tenure. This, they posit, would have unlocked a substantial sum of money that could be redirected to address other sectors of the economy, particularly given the nation’s constrained financial circumstances.
Advocates of this viewpoint, including legal practitioner Mr. Marcellus Onah, emphasize that “Tinubu’s cabinet of 48 ministers appears to be the largest since Nigeria returned to democratic governance in 1999.” He further contends that this overpopulated ministerial roster starkly contradicts the country’s ongoing fiscal challenges and calls into question the government’s commitment to prudent spending.
Yet, with the backdrop of elevated governance costs starkly evident through the ministers’ anticipated remuneration, many voices are now rallying for President Tinubu’s administration to revisit the Stephen Oronsaye report on civil service reform. This report, submitted in 2011, remains largely ignored within the confines of the presidential villa.
The Oronsaye report, conceived during the tenure of former President Jonathan, advocated for the consolidation and merger of various Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) as a means of reducing the cost of governance and channeling saved funds towards pressing national issues.
Despite its seemingly objective content, the report was shelved due to political considerations. It recommended the abolition of 38 federal agencies, the fusion of 14 agencies into their parent ministries, a reduction in statutory agencies from 263 to 161, and the merging of 52 institutions, among other suggestions.
Experts suggest that implementing the report’s recommendations partially, if not in full, could save Nigeria over N12 trillion. Against the backdrop of mounting debts and inadequate repayment strategies, they urge the government to reevaluate the report’s potential, even in a modified form.
Acknowledging the constitutional considerations surrounding ministerial appointments, some contend that such a process remains open to revision, pointing out that the same constitution dictates a maximum of 37 ministers—one per state, plus the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja. Comparing President Tinubu’s 48 ministers to former President Jonathan’s 33, these voices argue for a reconsideration of governance priorities, especially in times of economic distress.