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Presidential pensions in USA, Nigeria

There is a popular belief that no American president got elected into that office without being a millionaire before contesting for the post. Money, in…

There is a popular belief that no American president got elected into that office without being a millionaire before contesting for the post. Money, in large amount, was always needed to travel all over that large country to campaign and win votes.

The other side of that belief is the thought that when they leave office, American Presidents get one-off huge severance pay as members of the National Assembly and members of States House of Assembly do in Nigeria.

It is not so for American former Presidents. What they get is regular monthly pension for life. The monthly pension comes with accompaniments as narrated by  Robert Morello (https://work.chron.com/much-us-president-make-retirement-23058.html) brought here for the benefit of readers of Pension Watch.

Morello wrote that: only 44 individuals have (so far) served as president of the United States since George Washington was elected the first in 1789. Today, upon retirement, each of these leaders receives a pension from the federal government along with Secret Service protection for himself and his family and a host of other benefits. If you think the President’s perks end when leaving office, think again.

Pension Amounts

Each former president receives the same salary as a current member of the Presidential Cabinet. For 2017, the amount was $207,800 per year. This number does not take into account the extras the former leader is entitled to including payroll for office staff and free postage for life.

The former president is granted a host of benefits that often add up to more than the pension payment itself. For example, ex-presidents are allowed office space and communications systems paid for by taxpayers. Fiscal year 2018 budget requests for the former presidents include $536,000 for office space for former President Barack Obama and $68,000 for travel for George H.W. Bush.

Spouse and Family Benefits

Should the former president be survived by a spouse, the spouse is granted a (monthly) pension of $20,000 for life, as well as a free postage benefit. On top of all these pension payments and benefits, come the expenses involved with the personal protection of each former president and his family.

In total, the amount spent on a former president can reach into the millions of dollars per year. In 2015, former president Jimmy Carter accounted for over $200,000 in additional costs, while expenses for George W. Bush reached $800,000. Budget requests for former President Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Obama in 2018 exceed $1 million each, including pension costs.

Personal Earnings

In addition to earning a pension, the former president is free to publish memoirs, join corporate boards and give speeches for payment to audiences around the world. The potential earnings for such activities is nearly without limit. Clinton went on to earn over $65 million in speaking fees alone after his presidency and another $15 million for his published memoirs.

Before Pensions

Ex-presidents did not earn pensions until 1958 when Congress put in place the Former Presidents Act, providing the benefits today’s leaders now receive. Before this Act was passed, ex-presidents were given nothing after leaving office, and the results were evident. For example, Thomas Jefferson sold his personal library to create the basis for the Library of Congress and James Monroe was destitute when he died. This is the end of the piece by Robert Morello.

In Nigeria, the situation was that all former Regional Premiers and the Prime Minister and all former Heads of state and President Shehu Shagari had no pensions. The families of Heads of States General Ironsi and General Murtala Mohammed who were killed in coups too were left in the cold.

However, General Sani Abacha’s administration initiated a system that caters for the families of the late leaders and arranged pensions for those alive. Doing so was reasonable.

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