The euphoria that greeted the appointment of many members of the Federal Executive Council of Nigeria under President Muhammadu Buhari has waned into a litany of woes as ministers are facing stark working conditions, the most ridiculous of which is lack of decent accommodation.
An informed source who did not want to be named told SIGNAL weekend how President Buhari walked out on a meeting with a team of ministers who scheduled a meeting with the President last Wednesday on behalf of their colleagues to make a case for decent accommodation. The ministers, led by Youth and Sports Minister Solomon Dalung had sought the audience of President Buhari to acquaint him with what ministers in his cabinet were suffering when all of a sudden the President stood up and ‘excused himself’ leaving the ministers dejected and hopeless.
“The ministers have been facing serious challenges with accommodation and they put their heads together to go and see the President hoping that they could persuade him to do something. Dalung was the spokesperson of the ministers, Communication Minister Adebayo Shittu was also at the meeting. Where the problem started was when Dalung started making reference to how ministers got a nice accommodation package under previous governments. He actually said that under Jonathan, ministers were given N20 million each for accommodation. When he said that Buhari asked if he meant N20 million for all the ministers and Dalung replied that it was N20 million per person. It was at this point that Buhari stood up and said he was taking his leave and leaving Osinbajo to “sort it out” with them”, the source disclosed.
Buhari’s ministers have been complaining about the meager N4 million approved by Buhari for their accommodation. The Minister of Communication, Adebayo Shittu was only recently able to get an accommodation in Abuja after his state governor, Abiola Ajimobi graciously helped him with an extra N2 million, a source who did not want to be named told this newspaper.
On his part, the Minister of Youth and Sports, Solomon Dalung recently secured a low-key accommodation at Gwarinpa district of Abuja where he now resides.
However, not all ministers are groaning under the accommodation challenge, as a few of them are believed to be wealthy enough to afford any type of accommodation anywhere in the world. Conspicuously absent at the meeting with Buhari were the Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola and Minister of Solid Minerals, Kayode Fayemi. The ministers are ex-governors and super ministers in Buhari’s cabinet.
Quoting a presidency source on Monday, Thisday reports that Buhari rejected the request by the ministers “because his hands are tied by the Remuneration Act, even though he empathises with their situation. They were asking for N20 million per annum for their accommodation. But prior to last week’s meeting, several other options had been proposed, including buying an estate or the FCDA (Federal Capital Development Authority) building one, but these were considered expensive and dropped. The final option was the request for N20 million per annum, because some ministers are squatting in Abuja and the situation is impacting on their jobs.”
A four to five-bedroom detached house in Wuse 2 district of Abuja, goes for anywhere between N8 million to N10 million per annum. The rate is almost the same in Gwarinpa Phase 1 and Jabi parts of Abuja, while a four-bedroom detached house in Maitama or Asokoro goes for between N10 million and N15 million per annum.