Former Governor Peter Obi has criticised the proposed salary increment for President Bola Tinubu, Vice-President Kashim Shettima, other politicians and judicial staff by Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), calling for the reversal because it will worsen the economic hardship already experienced by over 130 impoverished Nigerians.
“I learnt with great reservation, the approval of a 114% increase in the salaries of elected politicians, including the president, vice president, governors, lawmakers, as well as judicial and public office holders by the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC),” Mr Obi said. “This is not the appropriate time for such salary increment if it is at all necessary.”
Mr Obi, the Labour Party candidate in the 2023 presidential election, called for reversing the planned salary increment in a series of tweets on Thursday, saying leaders should sacrifice for citizens.
“We are living in a time when an average Nigerian is struggling with many harsh economic realities, and with over 130 million Nigerians now living in poverty,” explained the former Anambra governor. “This is a moment when recent reform measures by the government have increased living costs astronomically.”
He added, “The sacrifice, at this time in our nation, should be borne by the leaders. The increment should be reversed immediately, and the savings should be devoted to fixing education, healthcare and poverty alleviation, especially in the remote rural areas.”
Citing Rakiya Tanko-Ayuba, represented RMAFC chairman Muhammadu Shehu on Tuesday in Birnin Kebbi, News Agency of Nigeria, a state-owned newspaper, on Wednesday reported that RMFAC adjusted the remuneration of Messrs Tinubu, Shettima, and other political and judicial officeholders by 114 per cent.
The report sparked criticism as Nigerians berated Mr Tinubu for calling Nigerians to sacrifice after sudden fuel subsidy removal without provision of palliatives for citizens, while he and other politicians get salary increments.
In the heat of public outrage against salary increment for Mr Tinubu and other politicians, RMFAC spokesperson, Christian Nwachukwu, said the proposed salary increment has not been approved.
“No approval yet. There is no approval yet,” Mr Nwachukwu told Leadership Newspaper on Wednesday. “I don’t know the source of that story. Everything is under the process. It has to come as a Bill for Mr President to assent.”
Nonetheless, Mr Obi said the Tinubu administration should weigh the illustration of Shakespeare before implementing policies that would have serious consequences on the nation’s economy and citizens’ trust in their government.
“In the immortal words of Shakespeare’s Julius Ceaser, “What touches us ourself shall be last served.” The leaders, therefore, should prioritise what affects the masses and those on the lower strata of society over themselves,” Mr Obi said.