There are strong indication that a good number of President Muhammadu Buhari’s cabinet Ministers (not less than Seven) and other political appointees, are becoming more uncomfortable with the austere posture of the current administration.
As some of the ministers and others political appointees (names withheld), grappled with the hardship imposed on the populace by an economy in recession, they have secretly written a protest letter presumably indicating their intention to quit.
Recall, that few months ago, the issue of inadequate house allowances for Minister had generated controversy in the Villa, with reports of the President working out of his cabinet members.
Although, the presidency has debunked the report, saying “no such thing happened”.
A political aide to one of the ministers on Sunday, June 12, said in confidence that cash squeeze in the economy made it impossible for the presidency to approve the housing allowance for the ministers .
According to the aide, the ministers had demanded for a N20 million grant each, to enable them settle down in Abuja, but this request was turned down by the President, who saw the amount as ‘unreasonably high’ in view of the state of the economy .
Consequently, a number of the ministers have been “ technically stranded ” on the issue of accommodation . Except for some of the ministers who were either State Governors or members of the National Assembly, before joining the cabinet and had houses in Abuja, the rest were said to be either living in hotels or squatting in the Guest Houses owned by their States.
It was learnt that one of the ministers who once served as a Commissioner in one of the South – West States, has been squatting in one of the mansions belonging to his political godfather and chieftain of the ruling party.
Worse still are some ministerial aides who have also complained of not receiving a dime since they were appointed, a situation that has resulted in regrets and contemplation of quitting their jobs.
Another political aide to one of the ministers also stated that the austerity was becoming so unbearable that most Ministries,Department and Agencies, MDAs, have been forced to cut down on their recurrent expenditure such as local travels and the purchase of newspapers for the various units in the headquarters of the ministry.
“Do you know that we no longer buy ‘plenty ’ of newspapers as before? We just buy a few copies which are sent to the ministers office. It is after he has finished reading, that the papers would be sent to other offices.
“Also , we no longer travel with Oga on some of these trips because there is no money . These days , if he is travelling, he goes with just a few persons , mainly security and protocol officials. It is from these guys that we get to know where they are and what is happening at any point in time ,” the source said.
Apart from the ministers and their aides, the senior political appointees recruited to help the administration on key areas are not fairing better.
According to sources, these class of officials have merely been receiving their salaries and nothing more, unlike in previous administrations where ministers special advisers and assistants had a bouquet of allowances.
One of the presidential aide who rose to the defence of Buhari said that the implementation of the 2016 budget has not effectively taken off, resulting in MDAs as well an atmosphere of disillusionment among government officials.
However, he added that the hopes raised by the fiscal document dimmed when the Niger Delta Avengers, NDA, and other militant groups launched a sustained attack on oil and gas facilities, strategic to achieving the goals of the budget.