Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Thursday last week at a media forum, thought it was necessary to say: “I was doing far better as a lawyer in Lagos, in terms of earnings, than as [Vice Pres]. I’m not complaining though.”
Osinbajo was following in the footsteps of Petroleum Minister Ibe Kachikwu, who claimed a few months ago: “The call to public service for me was unique. I was vice-president of Exxon Mobil West Africa and I was suddenly called to serve. In serving, I lose a lot of money, if not at least a million dollars every year by virtue of being a minister, but the thing is, I am directed by the voice of God.”
Why do these people keep telling Nigerians how much they used to earn? Firstly, it is tasteless in the extreme to tell people in a country with about 70% living in abject poverty that a well paid job as VP or minister, with all the allowances and expenses funded at public expense, was not really maintaining you at standards you have become accustomed to. If the money ain’t good enough for you, just quit and go back to your allegedly more lucrative job. There are millions of Nigerians more than willing to take your place, and could possibly do a better job.
Secondly, while no one is quite sure whether it is true that these two public officials earned more than their official salaries as private citizens, rubbing their megabucks previous pay in the faces of Nigerians insults their collective intelligence. This because most Nigerians believe that the likes of Osinbajo and Kachikwu do not go into public service to lose money. They go with their eyes wide open, knowing full well about the opportunities to enrich themselves that exist from controlling public resources.
Their salaries as VP and minister may allegedly not be as high as their previous earnings, but most people believe they would leave public office a lot richer than when they went in.
By banging on about how much they used to earn, people like Osinbajo seem to be suggesting to Nigerians that they should be grateful for the alleged “sacrifices” of losing money in service of the country. No one should be fooled by such empty talk as people that talk so much about how much they earn, may have a lot of money but do not have much class. They are the sort of people Oscar Wilde said “know the price of everything and the value of nothing”.