According to Punch, Buhari said, “Yes, there used to be 42 ministers, I think we will be lucky if we can have half of that now because we cannot afford it. Others may not be substantive ministers but they will sit in the cabinet because that is what the constitution says and we cannot operate outside the constitution.”
In the aftermath of this statement, some ministers-designate have promised to work for free if Buhari is unable to pay them.
Adebayo Shittu, a legal practitioner and human rights activist, is one of those who expressed this desire. He said:
“It is an issue of national service. There is nothing too much to sacrifice. If that is what our situation in Nigeria demands, then we must put ourselves up selflessly. We cannot say because of selfishness, we cannot work selflessly.With my background as somebody from a very humble family, I know what poverty is and I have been experiencing it. I have been dogged in conforming to the dictates of politics and poverty. There is nothing too much to sacrifice for the service of our people.”
Similarly, Isaac Adewole, a professor stated the following via his aide: “It is a great honour to serve one’s fatherland and I can tell you Prof. Adewole is ready to serve Nigeria without collecting salaries. Everything is not about money. It is a privilege and a great honour to serve. This is what he was doing at his former school. He was paying some teachers employed to complement government’s efforts. He is not driven by money but passion to make positive impact in the nation in whatever capacity.”
Rotimi Amaechi is also said to have expressed willingness to work without salary. His aide stated:
“If he (President Buhari) has not said that he would not pay ministers, the question of whether he (Amaechi) will work for free should not be necessary. We know that we are currently dealing with hard times. For us as a country, we will manage our cost. He (Amaechi) has never run for anything because he is looking for money. His interest is in the development of Nigeria.”
James Ocholi shared similar desires, as he said, “I will not run away from challenges. If the first challenge in the new assignment is to solve the financial crisis of the federation, I will be willing to devote time and attention to solving it before any other national issue.”