The Kaduna Electricity Distribution Company on Thursday restored power supply to former President Shehu Shagari’s house on Sama Road, Sokoto.
It was learnt that despite pleas by family members, electricity supply was cut off from Shagari’s residence on Wednesday over non-payment of N6m bills.
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The Sokoto State Government, it was gathered, had been paying the electricity bills of the late ex-leader’s house.
A staff of the electricity company told Daily Trust that a commitment was made before electricity was reconnected to Shagari’s house.
He was, however, silent on who made the commitment.
The Sokoto State Commissioner for Energy, Aliyu Mahe, said he was in a meeting when our reporter called him.
The spokesman of the state branch of the electricity company, Malam Umar, also declined comment.
Who bears the burden?
The federal government is constitutionally empowered to cater for the general wellbeing of former presidents, heads of state, their deputies, as well as their families, contrary to beliefs in some quarters that this responsibility lies with the states of origin of the ex- leaders.
Investigations have shown that at least since 1999, the federal government, in line with Decree 32 of 1999, has been spending billions annually to cater for the upkeep of Nigeria’s former leaders.
In 2001, the decree became the Remuneration of Former Presidents, Heads of Federal Legislative Houses and Chief Justices of the Federation (and Other Ancillary Matters) Act.
Daily Trust findings reveal that when the National Assembly further amended the law in 2008 and 2010, the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) was thereby mandated to fix the remunerations of the former leaders from time to time in line consonance with economic realities on ground.
RMAFC draws its mandate from Sections 70 and 84 (4) of the 1999 Constitution, under the Certain Political, Public and Judicial Office Holders (Salaries, Allowances, etc) Act, 2002 and the Amendment Act of 2008.
One of such leaders was former President Shehu Shagari, who died some years back.
While it is unclear why the families of the former leader failed to settle the electricity bills of their residence, investigations – through speaking to a top federal government official who declined being named because he was not authorized to speak – revealed that money might not be the problem as Shagari’s family has been receiving his entitlements even after his demise as provided for by the law.
“The federal government is responsible for the upkeep of all former leaders. It is a law.
“And money is budgeted and released for this purpose.
“Why the family can’t settle their electricity bill is surprising. Something must be wrong somewhere.
“The family receives their approved entitlements as provided for by the law as and when due,” the top bureaucrat in Abuja said.
When asked whether it is the responsibility of the state governments where the former leaders hail from to cater for the former presidents and their families, the top official said that was not correct.
“The law is clear. It is the sole responsibility of the federal government.
“And the government is executing that responsibility. Whatever the state does is voluntary.
“Besides, what the law stipulates for the ex-leaders, by all standards, is more than enough for them and their family,” he source said.