In six months, January to June 2019, the Nigeria Government has paid over N7bn in allowances to at least 26 ambassadors who have been retired yet continued to operate abroad at their duty posts illegally. It was gathered that the cost of maintaining these 26 envoys with Nigerian taxpayers’ money in the first six months of 2019 exceeds $20million (over 7billion Naira).
SaharaReporters has obtained a list of the retired Nigerian ambassadors and special grade officers in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who are enjoying millions of dollars in allowance despite retirement.
According to the list, some of the ambassadors have been retired as early as November 2018.
The list of the retired envoys includes Amb. AG Bala (Hong Kong), Amb. Jane Ndem (Romania), Amb. Salisu Umaru (Senegal), Amb. Martin Cobham (Venezuela), Amb. E.P Duchi (Israel), Mr. Amedu Ode (Singapore). Others include Amb. HT Balogun (Indonesia), Amb. AA Sonaike (Philippines), Amb. Baba Garba (Morroco), Amb. Ibrahim Isah (Cote D'Ivoire), Amb. Vivian Okeke (Austria), amongst others. These envoys have continued to receive payments in US dollars for themselves, spouses and domestic servants averaging USD $3.4million a month.
Last Friday, SaharaReporters detailed how these Nigerian career ambassadors, who have retired from service since 2018, have been retained at their duty posts, collecting millions of dollars in allowances in contravention of extant rules and regulations. A presidency source revealed how President Muhammadu Buhari’s Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, revoked the President’s order to recall the retired ambassadors to Nigeria.
As of June 2019, at least 26 career ambassadors have retired from service but are still at their posts collecting millions of dollars in taxpayers’ money illegally, the source noted. It was gathered that in December 2018, the immediate past Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, approached President Buhari and informed him of the statutory retirement of the 26 ambassadors. The source had said, “The President agreed with the minister and directed him to recall the retirees immediately in public interest. He further directed him to submit a proposed list of replacements, from deserving career officers.”
The source said the minister sent a telex to the affected ambassadors and demanded them to hand over to the most senior diplomatic officer in their respective missions." Few days after this action, Onyeama was summoned to the villa by Kyari where along with Amb. AR Abubakar, they dressed him down and directed him to reverse the directive given by the President.
“In compliance with the order from the power brokers, the minister withdrew the recall and asked the retired ambassadors to remain at their posts illegally, against public interest and presidential directive. This action was brought to the attention of the President, but he did not do anything.” Independent investigations conducted by SaharaReporters revealed that payment of salary in Nigeria for all the 26 retired Ambassadors have been stopped from day one of retirement, thanks to Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS).
Public Service Rule does not provide for any form of continuous payment to a retiree other than his or her pension. The source added, “They (retired ambassadors) should, therefore, be compelled to cough out every dollar illegally paid to them abroad from the date they retired from service.
“Yet, these "Kyari's favorite 26" have continued to receive payments in US dollars for themselves, spouses and domestic servants averaging USD $3.4million a month. Imagine what that huge amount of money can do to improve the lives of ordinary Nigerians.
“Without doubt, expenses incurred on these 26 individuals were illegal, as they were no longer in active service. They must, therefore, be made to refund every dime.
“Any attempt by "Godfather Kyari" to shield them should and must not be allowed to succeed. The anti-corruption law must be made to take its full course on them, otherwise, people will continue to believe that the fight against corruption by this administration is, at best, a charade.”