Some security operatives attached to the Presidential Villa, Abuja, are currently groaning under heavy debts as a result of the stoppage of their special allowance referred to as the Risk Cautious Allowance, The PUNCH has learnt.
Under former President Goodluck Jonathan, all the security agents enjoyed the allowance up until March, 2015, while his administration left those of April and May, 2015, unpaid.
They have not been paid the monthly allowance since May 2015 when the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari came on board despite repeated promises made to them on the issue.
The security officers include those of the Nigerian Army, the Nigeria Police, the Department of State Services, the Nigerian Intelligence Agency, the Federal Road Safety Commission and the Fire Service among others.
Some of the security operatives, who spoke with our correspondent on condition of anonymity on Tuesday, lamented that they had not been able to meet their various financial obligations because of the development.
They said despite this, authorities of the Presidential Villa kept introducing additional security measures that further tasked them daily.
A policeman told our correspondent that because of the non-payment of the allowance, some policemen, who could no longer afford increasing transport fares, had converted their beats to temporary homes.
“It is not easy! We can no longer cope with the increase in transport fare. Policemen are now passing the night at their beats. In the evening, you can go to Gate 4 and 5 among other spots in the Villa to confirm this,” he said.
Another operative, a soldier, said they were feeling the brunt of the non-payment of the allowance more because most of them were junior officers who collected far less than N50,000 monthly as salary.
“I could not pay the school fee of my daughter last term. Another term is starting soon. Most of us are junior officers with less than N50,000 as salary. We always augment our salary with this small allowance but they have denied us of it,” he lamented.
Another security operative said it was not fair for the authorities to remain silent in the face of the growing disquiet over the issue.
He said the right thing to do was for them to address the operatives on efforts being made to pay them and when the payment would be done.
He added that the last they heard on the matter was when the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno, directed all operatives in the Presidential Villa to fill some forms running into about five pages.
He said not satisfied with the arrangement, heads of about two security agencies asked their men not to fill the forms.
He added, “Even if the idea was to ascertain that we are truly working in the Villa, I believe that photocopies of our identity tags should be enough for the exercise?
“How can the NSA ask that we should be filling forms that run into about five pages and yet, there is still nothing to show for it?
“If the Permanent Secretary of the State House can collect our account details and he paid N15,000 to us in lieu of Easter rice and other items within two weeks, what is delaying the NSA from paying our allowance?
“These are people who keep introducing new security measures to be implemented by disgruntled officers. Today, they will ask us to thoroughly search all vehicles coming in, tomorrow they will ask us to ensure that everybody fills access forms.”
Presidential spokesmen, Mr. Femi Adesina and Garba Shehu, were not available for comment on Tuesday as they were on the President’s entourage to China.
But a security expert, Mr. Mike Ejiofor, who spoke to our correspondent, took two different positions on the issue.
Ejiofor, who is a retired DSS official, agreed that security operatives, who guided the President or were on special postings, were entitled to special allowances which were meant to encourage them in order not to compromise or undermine their loyalty.
He said, “People who guide the President or on special postings are entitled to special allowances to encourage them and to ensure that their loyalty is not undermined, or that they do not go about begging for money.
“I am not saying that they cannot be begging for money if they are paid this allowance, but the situation will be worse if they are not paid.
“But again, authorities may have their reasons for not paying this allowance, possibly because of the change agenda. If that is the case, the security operatives should also adapt.”
In the past, senior officers were said to be receiving about N30,000 per month as their special allowance while junior officers got about N25,000.