Cash crunch: We’re ready to work for free, say Buhari’s ministers

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Following Friday’s pronouncement by President Muhammadu Buhari that Nigeria is broke and he might not be able to pay ministers, some minister-designates have said they are ready to work for free. Some of the ministers who said this include Mr. Adebayo Shittu and Professor Isaac Adewole. 

The ministers, who along with their colleagues are expected to be sworn in and given portfolios any moment from now, described their appointment as a call to service. Shittu, representing Oyo State at the yet-to-be-constituted Federal Executive Council, said he was ready to give his services free to Nigeria if that was what the situation demanded.

Shittu, a legal practitioner and human rights activist said that what matters is the intention to serve and not the financial benefits.

He said, “It is an issue of national service. There is nothing too much to sacrifice. If that is what our situation in Nigeria demands, then we must put ourselves up selflessly. We cannot say because of selfishness, we cannot work selflessly. With my background as somebody from a very humble family, I know what poverty is and I have been experiencing it. I have been dogged in conforming to the dictates of politics and poverty. There is nothing too much to sacrifice for the service of our people.”

Adewole, a former Vice Chancellor of the University of Ibadan spoke on Saturday through his media aide, Mr. Sunday Saanu.

According to Saanu, Adewole who is to represent Osun State, is ready to serve the nation without pay.

Saanu said, “It is a great honour to serve one’s fatherland and I can tell you Prof. Adewole is ready to serve Nigeria without collecting salaries. Everything is not about money. It is a privilege and a great honour to serve. This is what he was doing at his former school. He was paying some teachers employed to complement government’s efforts. He is not driven by money but passion to make positive impact in the nation in whatever capacity.”

The past governor of Rivers State, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, also said he did not accept to be a minister for personal and pecuniary gains. Amaechi, who spoke through his former aide, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari, explained that he was interested in the development of Nigeria

He said, “If he (President Buhari) has not said that he would not pay ministers, the question of whether he (Amaechi) will work for free should not be necessary. We know that we are currently dealing with hard times. For us as a country, we will manage our cost. He (Amaechi) has never run for anything because he is looking for money. His interest is in the development of Nigeria.”

Another minister-designate, Mr. James Ocholi, said he will not run away from challenges.

He said, “I will not run away from challenges. If the first challenge in the new assignment is to solve the financial crisis of the federation, I will be willing to devote time and attention to solving it before any other national issue.”