President Goodluck Jonathan's approval of the Review of the Consolidated Armed Forces Salary Structure (CONAFSS) in July 2010 has generated a cold war among the top-rank officers, LEADERSHIP Sunday has learnt.
The salary structure , which shows a wide disparity between one rank and another in the military top brass, was a baby of the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission.
It was contained in a circular issued on July 1, 2010, entitled "Review of the Consolidated Armed Forces Salary Structure (CONAFSS)" and addressed to the chief of staff to the president, principal secretary to the vice president, minister of defence, minister of finance, secretary to the government of the federation (SSG), head of the civil service of the federation (HoSGF), chief of defence staff, auditor -general for the federation, accountant-general of the federation and the director-general, Budget Office.
It reads in part, "The President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has approved the upward review of the Consolidated Armed Forces Salary Structure (CONAFSS). A table of the revised salary structure is attached herewith and comes into effect on July 1, 2010."
Although the president reportedly approved the salary increase "granted on the condition that there shall be a noticeable improvement in the productivity of the military in line with the expectation, it has generated an "unreported heat" in the military.
A retired air commodore, who sought anonymity, told LEADERSHIP Sunday that the commission did not do its home work well before arriving at the salary structure and urged President Jonathan to revisit the matter before it dampens the spirit of the affected military chiefs.
"How the commission arrived at the disparity, especially from the rank of colonel/group captain/navy captain and above, is what I do not know and nobody has been able to provide an answer. For example, the salary of a lt-col/wing commander/navy commander per annum is N3,380,086 while that of the next rank, colonel/group captain/navy captain is N3,715,859 per annum.
The difference, to an extent, is reasonable. But the next rank, brig-gen/air commodore/navy commodore receives a whooping sum of N7,385,856 per annum, then followed by major general/air vice marshal/rear admiral who gets N12,038,945. Can you see the gap? But it may interest you to know that the next rank, lt-gen/air marshal/vice admiral receives N13,363,229 a year.
"Let me explain the issue at stake in another way: A lt-col receives N281,673.83 as salary per month, a colonel earns N309,654.917, a brig-gen gets N615,488.00, major general gets N1 million-plus while the lt-gen. gets N1.113 million and a general , that is the CDS, gets N1.358 million. The main problem has to do with the gap between a colonel and a brigadier-general and that of the major general. You will see that until you get to the brigadier general the gap is not wide and the moment you get to the salary of the major general and that of the lt-general, the gap is closed again."
The source further said that the prayer of every soldier is to become "a major general or its equivalent because that is where your monthly salary of N1 million-plus continues till you die".
"It is like a permanent secretary in the civil service who enjoys the same privilege till he/she dies. Those who do not know this gap would merely collect their five years' salaries as pension and that is all. What type of shoddy arrangement is that?" he asked.
On the way out, the retired military officer appealed to President Jonathan to order the wages commission to revisit the salary structure of the military or face the consequence because a time is coming when those who are silent would explode and that would not speak well of the military.
"President Jonathan who approved the CONAFSS should mandate the same commission to revisit the issue as soon as possible before people explode their bottled anger. As of today, the CONAFSS has turned our military into another 'Animal Farm' where some are more equal than the others," he said.
Salary Structure Of Top Military Officers
Lt-Col/Wing Commander/Navy Commander N3,380,086 p.a.
Colonel/Group Captain/Navy Captain N3,715,859 p.a.
Brigadier Gen/Air Commodore/Navy Commodore N7,385,856 p.a.
Maj-Gen/Air Vice Marshal/Rear Admiral N12,038,945 p.a.
Lt-Gen/Air Marshal/Vice Admiral receives N13,363,229.00 p.a.
Generals N16,303,140.00 p.a.