The National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission has increased the Duty Tour Allowance of key functionaries of government including ministers, permanent secretaries and top civil servants.
The newly approved allowance would see a small category of political appointees and directors in ministries and federal agencies collect more money as duty tour allowances that are more than twice the N30,000 minimum wage.
This revelation was contained in a circular cited by LEADERSHIP Weekend yesterday in Abuja. It was signed by the Office of the Executive Chairman National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission and addressed to the Chief of Staff to the Presidents, the SGF, clerk of the National Assembly, Secretary of the National Judicial Council, ministers and a host of federal agencies.
The circular said President Muhammadu Buhari approved the upward review of Duty Tour Allowances applicable to permanent secretaries and their equivalent from N20,0000 to N70,000, while that Minister/SGF/HCSF/Equivalent was reviewed from N35,000 to N80,000.
The circular titled: Review Of Duty Tour Allowance In The Federal Public Service was signed by the chairman of the Commission Ekpo Nta.
Published reports revealed that Nigeria’s minimum wage cannot cater for the minimum nutritional needs of one adult person in a month.
A report by Picodi, an international e-commerce report revealed that the value of basic food products for the healthy living of an adult in a month, at the beginning of 2022, stood at N40,980 higher than the N30,000 minimum wage in Nigeria.
This represents a 15.89 per cent increase compared to the beginning of 2021. These figures do not reflect the current exchange rate.
The circular reads in part, “The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has approved the upward review of Duty Tour Allowances applicable to Permanent Secretary/Equivalent from N20,000 to N70,000, and Minister/SGF/HCSF/Equivalent from N35,000 to N80,000.
“This approval takes effect from 1st September 2022.
“Given the above, and further to our Circular No. SWC/S/04/S.6/11/208 dated 2nd February 2022 on the above-mentioned subject, the comprehensive list of officers and their Duty Tour Allowances are as follows:- Grade Level 01-04, 10,000 per diem; Grade Level 05-06 and its equivalent 15,000 per diem, Grade Level 07-10 and its equivalent, N17,500 per diem; Grade Level 12-13 and its equivalent, N20,000 per diem; Grade Level 14-15 and its equivalent, N25,000 per diem; Grade Level 16-17 and its equivalent, N37,500 per diem.”
The Nigerian Labour Congress and Civil Society Organizations have reacted to the review by the National, Income and Wages Commission with outrage saying I ts focus on salaries of top government functionaries rather than workers is unfair.
Some of the functions of the commission based on the law setting it up include recommending the proportions of income growth which should be utilized for general wage increase; to inform the federal government of current and incipient trends in wages and propose guidelines within which increase in wages should be confined.
Historically, however, the commission rarely recommends the review of the minimum wage and salaries of low income workers. The NLC and other trade unions have had to embark on strikes and street protests to get the government to review the minimum wage.
Reacting to the new allowances, the General Secretary of NLC, Emmanuel Ugboaje said the rising cost of living, which the government has acknowledged and supposedly necessitated the review, is affecting workers far more than ministers and directors.
Speaking with LEADERSHIP Weekend, Ugboaje said that they have found that allowances do not meet their expectations, it should apply to the other side. “What is good for the goose is good for the gander”, he said.
The NLC Secretary General said, “We have made demands that they should review the minimum wage. Even though, this wasn’t their wages and is for administrative purposes, but the cost of living is rising.
He said this should be an election issue as there is hunger in the land and the high cost of goods and services cannot be ignored, citing what he called the illegal adjustment of the pump price of Petroleum Motor Spirit.
He also dismissed insinuations of the existence of a subsidy on PMS, which is eating at the government’s finances. “There is no subsidy”, he said.
“What is going on is outright stealing. The parameters and justifications doesn’t hold water. There are contradictory positions even with the government. The CG Customs has contradicted subsidy figures by the minister of finance and the GMD of NNPC. And they are working for the same government,” Ugboaje said.
Meanwhile, spiked by the revelation, civil society organisations in the country have vowed to contest the upward review of duty tour for political office holders, describing the decision as insensitive, unfair, and a delibrrate attempt to recklessly dilapidate the nation’s economy.
The executive director, civil society legislative advocacy centre( cislac) auwal rafsanjani who is at the forefront , advocating for rejection in cost of governace , said it was disturbing that , government could consider this despite weakening the financial strength of the country, through constant and reckless borrowing to finance baseless projects and budgets that have no value
“How can they allocate more stake for oersons without legacies, he questioned.
He said, this has proven beyond reasonable doubt that the government is actually not interested in effectively managing and changing the plight of the innocent, yet suffering Nigerian.
He said, “ It is indeed very sad that , despite the fact that these ministers and other political appointees who are already earning much more than they can show for it, get estacode, buy excessive tickets, buy hundreds of tickets for their private trips using government resources.
“ASUU has been on strike for months, complaining about poor welfare, yet government isn’t interested in their matter. One person has stolen the entire money needed for fixing our educational and healthcare systems and their children are schooling abroad.
“We strongly condemn any attempt by those in authority to continue to recklessly dilapidate our economy in the name of pleasing those who are not adding value to our economy
“We challenge them to show us the legacies of these ministers. Aren’t they the same personalities who abuse privileges and contract procurements laws. These same appointees, who award all ministries contracts to themselves, their families and friends?
“It is disappointing that this is coming at a time when the civil servant who labours for the country takes home only N30,000 minimum wage, which cannot even feed his family for three weeks. A university professor, with between 20-30 years working experiences earns as meager as one N115,00-N150,000
Review Of DTA In Federal Public Service Didn’t Violate Any Law – Reps
The House of Representatives yesterday said that the upward review of duty tour allowance in the federal public service did not violate any extant law.
Spokesperson of the House, Hon Benjamin Kalu while commenting on the review explained that the executive arm of government had justifiable reasons for the upward review. Adding that the doctrine of separation of power must be respected.
Kalu, however, assured that the parliament would deliberate on the matter if there are stronger reasons to do so in the interest of Nigerians.
“Did the above affect any extant law of the parliament? Does the executive have the right to be executive in the exercise of her powers? Did such exercise Infringe any legislative right ?,” Kalu asked.
According to him, the doctrine of separation of power is an efficient tool of democracy and should be allowed to breathe if Nigeria’s democracy must advance.
“In this spirit, there are obvious reasons which justified their decision on this but if there are stronger reasons to refer to this for a possible review, that’s what sec 88 and 89 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria was provided for and in such instance would be activated for the interest of Nigeria and Nigerians.
“For now the executives should be allowed to be executive in their function without undue interference. Isn’t that the independence of the arms of Government that democratic principles support?” he further asked.