On Friday, July 3, Nigeria's Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, said he earned more as a university professor than as a minister.
According to Pantami, his “salaries and allowances” as a minister are lesser compared to what he earned as a professor at the International University Madinah, Saudi Arabia.
The minister was reacting to a report by Sahara Reporters which claimed he had purchased three houses for his three wives since he assumed office barely a year ago.
In a statement released by his spokesperson, Uwa Suleiman, Pantami denied the allegations by the online news media.
According to the statement, the minister said he has not purchased a single property anywhere in the world since he assumed office.
“It is worthy of note that as a serving Minister, Dr Pantami’s salaries and allowances fall below his earnings as a Professor at the International University Madinah Saudi Arabia, where he still holds the record of being the first Nigerian to lecture at that level. He only returned to Nigeria out of the zeal to contribute his quota to national development," the statement partly reads.
How true is the minister's claim about earning more as a professor in Saudi Arabia than as a Nigerian minister?
Salary of a Nigerian minister
According to the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), the body charged with approving the salaries of political functionaries in Nigeria, the basic monthly salary of a Nigerian minister is N168,866:66 while the annual basic salary is N2,026,400:00.
Also, a minister receives Motor Vehicle fuelling and maintenance allowance of N126,650:00 monthly (which amounts to N1,519,800:00 yearly).
Ministers are also given allowances of N42,216:66 monthly (N506,600:00 annually) to pay their Personal Assistants and N126,650:00 (N1,519,800:00 annually) to pay their Domestic Staff.
Allowances for Entertainment are pegged at N75,990:00 monthly (which amounts to N911,880:00 annually) while N50,660:00 is paid monthly (N607,920:00 yearly) as Utilities allowance.
Monitoring allowance is N33,773:33 monthly (N405,280:00 annually) while Newspapers/Periodicals allowance is N25,330:00 monthly (N303,960:00 annually).
The total amount a minister collects on a monthly basis as salaries and allowances is N650,136:65 which amounts to N7,801,640:00 annually.
However, there are also some other special allowances given to them apart from those listed above.
According to RMAFC, Nigerian ministers are paid N4,052,800:00 as Accommodation allowance annually while they also get N6,079,200:00 once in four years.
When they go on duty tour, they are also paid N35,000 per night as Duty Tour Allowance (per night).
When they travel out of Nigeria for official assignments, they get Estacode of $900 per night.
Nigerian ministers are also paid N202,640:00 annually as leave allowance.
They also have access to Motor Vehicle Loan to the tune of N8,105,600:00 which is to be repaid before the expiration of tenure.
After successful completion of tenure, they receive N6,079,200:00 as Severance Gratuity.
If the accommodation and leave allowances which are also paid annually are added to the annual take-home of Nigerian ministers, the total will be N12,057,080
The RMAFC document detailing the salaries of Nigerian political office holders is available on the website of the Bureau of Public Service Reforms (BPSR); bpsr.gov.ng.
Average Salary of a Professor in Saudi Arabia
Dr Pantami worked as a professor at International University Madinah, Saudi Arabia, before coming back to Nigeria to take up political appointments. He had served as the Director-General/Chief Executive Officer of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) before he was appointed minister.
While the university does not make its salaries publicly available on its website, the average salary of a professor can be reasonably estimated through some third party mediums.
For instance, an academic paper, Quality Assurance in Sudanese Higher Education: Current Status and Challenges, published on researchgate.net by Suliman Zakaria and Suliman Abdalla stated that "full professors in Saudi Arabia earn over 4000 USD".
Source: Suliman Zakaria and Suliman Abdalla/Researchgate.net
Four thousand US dollars is equal to N1,550,000.00 when converted via Google. If you multiply the sum by 12 (the number of months in a year), you get N18,600,000. This indicates that an average professor in Saudi Arabia gets over N18.6m in a year, according to the paper.
The authors cited interviews with Sudanese faculty in Sudan and Saudi Arabia as the source of their findings.
The paper was published in January 2017.
Also, according to Payscale, a compensation software and data company which helps employers manage employee compensation and employees understand their worth in the job market, the average salary for a Professor in Saudi Arabia is SAR 300,000 (Saudi Riyal) which is N31,032,915.12 (over N31 million).
According to SalaryExplorer, a "person working as a Lecturer in Saudi Arabia typically earns around 23,100 SAR per month. Salaries range from 10,900 SAR (lowest) to 36,500 SAR (highest).
Since it is the position of a professor that is being considered, it is logical to go for the highest range.
The highest range SAR 36,500 monthly amounts to SAR 438,000 in a year. This is N45,309,192.99 when converted to naira via Google.
Just like PayScale, SalaryExplorer provides career development resources including salary comparison, salary calculator, average salaries, job satisfaction surveys, and so on.
Given the findings above, the claim by Pantami that he earned more as a professor in Saudi Arabia than as a minister in Nigeria is rated "mostly correct".
A Nigerian minister is paid N7,801,640:00 (salaries and allowances annually) or N12,057,080 (if the accommodation and leave allowances are added).
However, an average professor in Saudi Arabia is paid between N18,600,000 and N45,309,192.99 annually.