Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Friday revealed that President Buhari made him to take half salary.
Speaking in Abuja at the presentation of a book, "Making the Steady, Sustainable Progress", the vice president described Buhari as a man of the exemplary frugality, honesty, humility and sense of humour.
Stressing that Buhari’s frugality ‘can sometimes be a problem", Osinbajo said: "As you know, Mr. President decided that since government provides accommodation, food and transportation for the President and the Vice President, we didn’t need a full salary. Now how much is this salary by the way?
"It is public knowledge and I think it is N1, 750,000.00 or so, which is under N2million. He said he would take only half of his salary and so I had no choice but also to take over of my own salary. Unfortunately Mr. President turned down my request, to give the other half to a worthy cause – his Vice President. He didn’t consider me a more worthy cause to give half of his salary!"
Osinbajo said in a country where politicians sometimes want to be wealthy "it is refreshing to have a President who most people won’t even dare to discuss any private benefit on a project let alone a bribe or a kick-back.
"Nigeria’s major problem is corruption, it is the main reason for the depletion of our resources, such that we had no savings when oil prices fell, and we were losing over 1billion barrels a day."
He said it was the prudence and honesty of the president that ensured that despite the economic downturn, Nigeria was able to support the states, spend N1.3trillion on capital expenditure and meet all other obligations, both foreign and local.
"Mr President’s unassuming personality and humility, is in my view, probably his greatest strength. This is why he is never flattered, or carried away by praise or adulation. He has always said: ‘I don’t pretend to know all the answers. I am here to provide stability and leadership, to a generation, a group of people, determined to run this country honestly, to provide jobs and prosperity to the poor, and our huge youth population.’
Osinbajo recalled that when Buhari was on medical vacation, "and I was speaking to him on the phone fairly regularly and giving him a rundown of what was going on, especially when he was on the first medical vacation. He said to me, ‘don’t worry about telling me all that is happening, I rely on your judgment keep doing your best, what if I drop dead?! You would have to run it anyway.’ I had to say to him, that his dropping dead was not part of the plan.
"I think that his sense of humour, self-deprecating humour is one that very people know about. As it has been said, he is a man of very few words. I remember that very early in the administration, he directed my attention to a cartoon of him in one newspaper which showed him, sitting on a wheel chair in bandages, at the top of the cartoon, were the words: “you promised to hit the ground running” and then under it, it just stated: “you just hit the ground.”
"I had a good laugh, but I think it is also an understanding that leadership, is not about self-adulation and self-aggrandizement. It is first of all, an understanding and humility, knowing that you have been picked from millions of people to lead the people because you are trusted to do so, not because you are thought of as a man with all the answers but because you are trusted to be able to lead others to achieve the results."
Osinbajo said the ultimate benefit of public service is the ability to touch millions of lives for good or for ill, by governmental policies and actions, noting that "the reality of honest and serious minded nation building is that in the short- run, tough and unpopular decisions have to be made.
"The greatest challenge is how to take the tough decisions, do the difficult things, and keep the people’s support. I suppose you cannot be a Buhari and shy away from tough decisions, and the President has not been afraid to take the bold decisions even when they are criticized."
The vice president said what had happened so far under the present administration was the tough business of laying strong foundations.
‘The first, is honesty and good governance, and prudence in government spending. The second, is in ensuring that we have an infrastructure that can sustain our economy, not now, but in the next decades. For the first time, in at least a decade, we are spending 30% on capital expenditure," he stated.