President Goodluck Jonathan is not yet done with heavy spending socialites in his cabinet or the public service.
As a follow up to his recent removal of the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Mr.AbdulAzeez Musa, for allegedly throwing a lavish wedding party for his daughter in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, President Jonathan has threatened to sack any minister or government official who holds an expensive or lavish party at home or abroad.
He said such ostentatious ministers must abide by the Code of Conduct for public officers or quit immediately.
He directed the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Mr. Bukar Goni Aji, to write to all permanent secretaries, directors and civil servants to stop such habit while security agencies, especially anti-graft commissions, were asked to keep a watch on ministers and public officers.
It was gathered that the President read the Riot Act to the Ministers at the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting in Abuja on Wednesday following security reports on the extravagant lifestyles of some ministers and public servants.
The security reports exposed how some ministers and officers had been ferrying guests abroad for birthday, marriage, chieftaincy, house warming and funeral parties.
Choice countries for such expensive parties are Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, South Africa, Ghana, The Gambia and Ireland.
Some cabinet members were also alleged to have sprayed dollars at such parties.
A Presidency source familiar with the issue said: “The Ministers got more than they bargained for at the FEC meeting when the President spent some time to condemn ostentatious lifestyles of public officers.
“He said he could not understand why ministers and public officers would be throwing lavish parties at home and abroad in a country where people cannot afford three square meals.”
The source quoted the President as saying: “I will sack whoever is found to be indulging in this unnecessary and expensive partying at home or abroad from this cabinet. Enough is enough.
“Why will a public officer on salary be organising parties abroad with many guests flying there on his ticket? All public officers engaging in this habit will henceforth be shown the way out. The Head of the Civil Service of the Federation should write a directive to all permanent secretaries, directors and civil servants to abide by their Code of Conduct and Civil Service Rules and Regulations.”
Asked how the ministers reacted when the President read the riot act, the source added: “There was pin-drop silence at the Executive Chambers of the Presidential Villa. They all got the message.”
It was however baffling, even to the President and some ministers, that those who briefed the press after the weekly FEC meeting “shielded the ban on partying away from the issues treated.
“None of the Ministers at the post-FEC briefing mentioned this important directive of the President,” the source noted.
It was learnt that the presidency has placed security agencies, especially anti-graft commissions, on the alert to watch out for such extravagant public officers.
Another presidency source added: “Henceforth, all ministers and public officers will be under watch by anti-graft agencies in order to fish out the bad ones.
“Certainly, there is no more hiding place for cabinet members.”
This is the second time FEC members would be warned against reckless spending.
The late President Umaru Yar’Adua had, at a FEC meeting in 2009, taken exception to how a minister allegedly spent about N125 million on his 25th wedding anniversary.
Recently, Euromonitor International revealed that Nigerians spent $59 million on champagne alone in 2012.
According to Euromonitor International, “Nigeria is among the fastest-growing countries in the world for champagne consumption, spending an estimated $59 million in 2012 on bubbly.
“That number is up from $49 million in 2011, and the firm forecasts that the country will spend some $105 million on fizz in 2017.
“Analysts say oil wealth, hip-hop, movie stars and an elite obsessed with status symbols have driven demand.”
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