Former Presidents’ Remuneration: Can Obasanjo, Buhari, Others, Emulate America’s Richard Nixon?

Former Presidents’ Remuneration: Can Obasanjo, Buhari, Others, Emulate America’s Richard Nixon?

Nigerians were alarmed with the news that N13.8 billion out of N27.5 trillion was budgeted for the remuneration of former Presidents and heads of states as well as the vice-presidents. This is obviously part of the recurrent expenditure profile in the 2024 federal budget.  This is without the consideration that some of these entities are entitled to same privileges in their states as former governors or deputies.  And the list of presidents and their vice-presidents in Nigeria keeps growing by every four years.

However, while there is record that the budgetary provision is backed by a legislation, known as “Remuneration of Former Presidents and Heads of state(And Other Matters) Act” of 1999, there is no record that it has been amended over the years to accommodate that kind of sum.  From the commencement of the Act, it is stipulated in there that all “Former Presidents and Heads of State are to be paid N350,000 per month as up-keep allowance” and are also entitled to the perquisites of office as specified in Part 1 of the Schedule.

Similarly, the Vice-Presidents shall be paid N250,000 per month as up-keep allowance and are as well entitled to the perquisites of office.

The report as published left too many gaps, thereby raising many questions begging for answers.

According to reports, the Federal Government earmarked a total of N13,8billion  for the upkeep of former presidents, vice-presidents, heads of state, Chiefs of General Staff, retired heads of service, permanent secretaries, as well as retired heads of government agencies and parastatals in the 2024 fiscal year.

The beneficiaries include former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, Goodluck Jonathan and Muhammadu Buhari, as well as ex-vice-presidents Atiku Abubakar, Namadi Sambo and Prof Yemi Osinbajo.

Also expected to benefit from the windfall are ex-military Heads of State, General Yakubu Gowon and General Abdusalami Abubakar, as well as a former dictator and self-styled military President, General Ibrahim Babangida, and a former Chief of General Staff, Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe (retd.).

Also, N1tn was provisioned for the public service wage adjustment for government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (including arrears of promotion and salary increases, and payment of severance benefits and minimum wage-related adjustments).

A breakdown shows that the entitlements of former presidents/heads of states and vice-presidents/chief of general staff will cost N2.3bn, while N10.5bn is proposed as benefits for retired heads of service, permanent secretaries and professors.

The payment of severance benefits to retired heads of government agencies and parastatals is proposed to cost N1bn.

Other allocations include N65bn for the Presidential Amnesty Programme for the reintegration of transformed ex-militants; N1bn for the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Energy; and N108bn for unnamed special projects.

The government is also proposing the sum of N40bn to offset electricity debts owed power distribution companies by all MDAs

But the Act specified that their remuneration shall be subject to review whenever there is an increase in the salary of the serving President and Vice-President.  This means that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has reviewed upward his salary and that of his Vice-President going by the staggering amount mapped out for remuneration of the former presidents. Don’t Nigerians deserve to know how much their serving president and former ones earn? 

Nigeria is good at copying the American system but fail always to copy well or the spirit of the letters.  In America, it is called Former Presidents Act.  Expectedly, congressmen had questioned the propriety of legislating a private pension for former presidents.  Among all the America’s former presidents, only Richard Nixon found the courage to relinquish his secret service protection, a privilege conferred on him by the Act, in 1985.  The point to note in the American system is that there is transparency in the process and there is a human face in consideration of the state of the economy.     

Nigeria and America in Comparism

The Former Presidents Act (known also as FPA; 3 U.S.C. § 102 note (P.L. 85-745)) is a 1958 U.S. federal law that provides several lifetime benefits to former presidents of the United States who have not been removed from office solely pursuant to Article Two of the United States Constitution.]

Before 1958, the U.S. federal government provided no pension or other retirement benefits to former United States presidentsAndrew Carnegie offered to endow a US$25,000 (equal to $758,103 today) annual pension for former chief executives in 1912, but congressmen questioned the propriety of such a private pension. That prompted legislation to provide benefits to former presidents. Although legislation was first introduced later that year to provide any such benefits, that legislation was not enacted

When the Former Presidents Act took effect in 1958, there were two living former presidents: Herbert Hoover and Harry S. TrumanDwight D. Eisenhower was the first president to fall under the act upon leaving office.

The original act provided for lifetime Secret Service protection for former presidents. In 1994, protection was reduced to ten years after leaving office for presidents inaugurated after January 1, 1997. This protection limitation was reversed in early 2013 by the Former Presidents Protection Act of 2012.]

All living former presidents and their spouses after Dwight D. Eisenhower are now entitled to receive lifetime Secret Service protection. Their children are entitled to protection “until they become 16 years of age”

Benefits

By law, former presidents are entitled to a pension, staff, office expenses, medical care, health insurance, and Secret Service protection

Pension

The secretary of the treasury pays a taxable pension to the president. Former presidents receive a pension equal to the salary of a Cabinet secretary (Executive Level I); as of 2020, it was $219,200 per year and since January 2022, $226,300. The pension begins immediately after a president’s departure from office. A former president’s spouse may also be paid a lifetime annual pension of $20,000 if they relinquish any other statutory pension

Transition

Transition funding for the expenses of leaving office is available for seven months. It covers office space, staff compensation, communications services, and printing and postage associated with the transition.

Staff and office

Private office staff and related funding is provided by the administrator of the General Services Administration. People employed under this subsection are selected by and responsible only to the former president for the performance of their duties. Each former president fixes basic rates of compensation for persons employed for them, not exceeding an annualized total of $150,000 for the first 30 months and $96,000 thereafter

Medical insurance

Former presidents are entitled to medical treatment in military hospitals; they pay for this at rates set by the Office of Management and Budget. Two-term presidents may buy health insurance under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.

Secret Service protection

From 1965 to 1996, former presidents were entitled to lifetime Secret Service protection, for themselves, spouses, and children under 16. A 1994 statute, Pub. L.Tooltip Public Law (United States) 103–329, limited post-presidential protection to ten years for presidents inaugurated after January 1, 1997. Under this statute, Bill Clinton would still be entitled to lifetime protection, and all subsequent presidents would have been entitled to ten years of protection.  On January 10, 2013, President Barack Obama signed the Former Presidents Protection Act of 2012, reinstating lifetime Secret Service protection for his predecessor George W. Bush, himself, and all subsequent presidents.

Richard Nixon relinquished his Secret Service protection in 1985, the only president to do so.[11]

Former Presidents Act – WikipediaBefore 1958, the U.S. federal government provided no pension or other retirement benefits to former United State…

Nigeria’s Act


Remuneration of former Presidents and Heads of State, etc.

As from the commencement of this Act all former-

    (a)        Presidents and Heads of State of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (in this Act
referred to as “former Heads of State”) shall be-

          (i) paid the sum of N350,000 per month as up-keep allowance; and

          (ii)     entitled to the perquisites of office specified in Part I of the Schedule to
this Act; and

         (b)       Vice-Presidents and Chiefs of General Staff of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
(in this Act referred to as “former Vice-Presidents”) shall be-

(i) paid the sum of N250,000 per month as up-keep allowance; and 
(ii)     entitled to the perquisites of office specified in Part II of the Schedule
to this Act.                                           

[Part II. Schedule.]

2. Allowances to members of families of deceased former Presidents and Heads of
State, etc.

(1) The members of families of-

       (a)       deceased former Heads of State shall be entitled to the payment of the sum of
N 1 ,000,000 per annum payable in the sum of N 250,000 per quarter; and

       (b)       deceased former Vice-Presidents shall be entitled to the payment of the sum of
N 750,000 per annum payable in the sum of N 187, 500 per quarter.

(2) The allowances specified in subsection (l) of this section shall be applied for the
up-keep of the spouse and education of the children of deceased former Heads of State
and deceased former Vice-Presidents up to the university level.

(3) For the avoidance of doubt, the spouse of a deceased former Head of State or de-
ceased former Vice-President shall not be entitled to the allowance specified in subsec-
tion (1) of this section if she re-marries.

3. Revision of remuneration

The remuneration of all former Heads of State and Vice-Presidents shall be subject to
review whenever there is an increase in the salary of the serving President and Vice-
President.

4. Annual budget to provide for the remuneration

The Federal Government of Nigeria shall in its annual budget make provision for the
remuneration of former Heads of State and former Vice-Presidents.

5. Interpretation

In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires-

“former Heads of State” includes former Prime Ministers of the Federal Republic of
Nigeria;

“former Vice-Presidents” includes former Chiefs of General Staff of the Federal
Republic of Nigeria.

Perquisites of office of former Heads of State

Personal staff

1. (1) An officer not below the rank of a Chief Administrative Officer.
(2) A Personal Secretary not below Grade Level 12,

Who shall be selected by the former Presidents and Heads of State, and paid by the Federal
Government.

Security

Civilian Head of State 
2. (1) Three to four armed policemen.

(2) One State Security Service Officer not below Grade Level 10 as an Aide de Camp to
be attached for life and paid by the State Security Agencies.

Vehicles

3. (1) Three vehicles to be bought by the Federal Government and liable to be replaced
every four years.

(2) The drivers shall be selected by the Head of State, and paid by the Federal Govern-
ment.

Protocol

4. (1) Diplomatic passport for life.

(2) Entitled to protocol within and outside Nigeria.

(3) All former Heads of State and their spouses shall take the third position after the
serving President and the serving Vice-President at all public functions in order of precedence.

Medical services and vacation

5. (1) Free medical treatment for former Heads of State and their immediate family within
Nigeria.

(2) Treatment abroad for former Heads of State and their immediate family where nec-
essary at Federal Government expense.

(3) Thirty days annual vacation within and outside Nigeria at Federal Government ex-
pense.

Provision of office accommodation

6. A well furnished and equipped office in any location of the choice of the former President
or Head of State in Nigeria.

Provision of residential accommodation

7. A well furnished five-bedroom house to be provided in any location of the choice of the
former Head of State in Nigeria.

Postal privileges

8. All former Heads of State shall be entitled to send non-political mails within and outside
Nigeria as franked mail marked “POSTAGE PAID”.

Telephone

9. One direct telephone line provided at Federal Government expense.

National Flag

10. The National Flag shall be flown at half-mast for a period of three days after the death of
a Head of State as a sign of national mourning at-

(a) all buildings;

(b) ground and naval vessels of the Federal Government;
(c) at all Nigerian Embassies outside Nigeria.

PARTII

Perquisites of office of former Vice-Presidents

Personal staff

1. (1) An officer not below the rank of a Chief Administrative Officer.
(2) A Personal Secretary not below Grade Level 10,

who shall be selected by the former Vice-President and paid by the Federal Government.

Security

Civilian Vice-President

2. (1) Two to three armed policemen.

(2) One State Security Service Officer not below Grade Level 8 as an Aide de Camp to
be attached for life and paid by the State Security Agencies.

Vehicles

3. (1) Two vehicles to be bought by the Federal Government and liable to be replaced every
four years.

(2) The drivers shall be selected by the former Vice-President and paid by the Federal
Government.

Protocol

4. (1) Diplomatic passport for life.

(2) Entitled to protocol within and outside Nigeria.

Medical services and vacation

5. (1) Free medical treatment for former Vice-Presidents and their immediate family within

Nigeria.

(2) Treatment abroad for former Vice-Presidents and their immediate family and where
necessary at Federal Government expense.

(3) Thirty days annual vacation within and outside Nigeria at Federal Government ex-
pense.

Provision of office accommodation

6. A modestly well-furnished and equipped office in any location of the choice of the former
Vice-President in Nigeria.

Provision of residential accommodation

7. A well furnished three-bedroom house to be provided in any location of the choice of the
former Vice-President in Nigeria.

Postal privileges

8. All former Vice-Presidents shall be entitled to send non-political mails within and outside
Nigeria as franked mail marked “POSTAGE PAID”.

Telephone

9. One direct telephone line at Federal Government expense.

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