CITIZENS TO TINUBU: CUT COST OF GOVERNANCE, NIGERIANS SUFFERING
December 9, 2023
- By Clifford Ndujihe & Dickson Omobola
At a time the country is ensnared in economic hardship, and the citizenry urged to make more sacrifices and tighten their proverbial belts to combat the economic challenges, some of the expenditures and plans of the Federal Government are raising dust in the polity.
High number of ministers: Starting with the nomination and appointment of ministers, President Bola Tinubu altogether, in August, made 51 nominations of which the National Assembly cleared 48, who have since been sworn-in. With the move, the president jettisoned the recommendations of the Steve Oronsaye Committee, which recommended the scrapping and merger of government agencies and parastatals to cut down cost of governance. As it is, Tinubu’s cabinet is the largest since the return of civil rule in 1999.
UNGA hotel accommodation: The Federal Government spent a massive $507,384 (N390.7 million) on hotel accommodation for government delegation during the 78th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) session in New York last September. In the memo dated September 11th 2023 signed by State House Permanent Secretary Adebiyi O. Olufunso, an additional $84,564 (N65.1 million) was for unspecified incidental charges.
Critics slammed the massive hotel expenses for the one week UNGA stay as wasteful, especially at a time when Nigeria faces severe economic challenges and high poverty levels. The lavish spending on accommodation far surpasses the annual income of most citizens.
N5.1bn Presidential Yacht:
On November 1, the nation was jolted by the inclusion of N5.095 billion for the purchase of a presidential yacht in the 2023 supplementary budget of N2.17 trillion.
Amid the outrage that greeted the Yacht, the presidency said the operational naval boat with specialised gadgets referred to as Presidential Yacht in the 2023 supplementary budget was not for the use of President Tinubu.
“The Naval boat was ordered by the navy under the previous administration. President Tinubu has consistently said that the government is a continuum as he inherited both assets and liabilities of past administrations.
“The payment request for the boat was part of the committed obligation submitted by the office of the Chief of Naval Staff to the Ministry of Defence. The total of the submitted requests was in excess of N200 billion out of which N62 billion was approved by the President,” the presidency said.
Following the outcry, the National Assembly moved the N5.095 billion Yacht allocation to Student Loans even though the yacht is already in the country fueling more controversies over its fate.
N57.6 billion SUVs for NASS members: The dust kicked up by the N160m approved for each federal legislator to buy a car aside other huge allowances are yet to settle.
At 160 Million, the sum of N57.6billion would be spent to buy the vehicles for the lawmakers. Chairman of the Senate Committee on Services, Sunday Karimi, defended the National Assembly over the disclosure that the legislators would receive SUVs worth 160 million naira each.
N20.5 billion for VP’s residences: After N2.5b was approved in the 2023 supplementary budget for the renovation of the Vice President’s residence in Abuja and N3b for the same purpose in Lagos, the FCT Minister is asking lawmakers to approve N15b to build a befitting house for the Vice President in Abuja.
1,411 COP28 climate summit delegates: The number of delegates Nigeria sent to the just ended COP28 climate summit in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, UAE, also generated ripples. Nigeria’s delegation is 1,411 delegates, which makes Nigeria joint third with China after UAE and Brazil.
However, the government said it sponsored 422 delegates, which critics also dismissed as “too high”. Other bogus expenditures and proposals of the Federal Government include: plan to spend N3 billion on “acquisition, renovation and rehabilitation of two Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, fortified quarters as State House Complex” at Guzape and Mabushi respectively.
2024 Budget Proposal:
In the 2024 Budget Proposal, there are some provisions that the citizens have queried as insensitive. For instance, in the Appropriation Bill, N319.28bn is to be spent on publicity, welfare, medical for the FG, MDA’s and presidency; N61.29bn is earmarked for renovation and construction of buildings; N20.52bn will be spent on the Presidential Fleet; N7.5bn for foreign trips for the president and vice president; N6.2bn is earmarked for State House operational vehicles while N5.84bn will be spent on meals for all MDA’s.
Opponents of the budget have argued that the spending is unnecessary and insensitive to the plight of ordinary Nigerians, who are struggling to make ends meet amid rising inflation and economic hardship. The revelations have amplified calls for greater fiscal prudence in governance. Many argue that sacrificial leadership should start with cost-cutting excessive expenditures that do not benefit ordinary Nigerians.
Govt testing the patience of Nigerians
By Dayo Johnson; Sam Oyadongha; Jimitota Onoyume; Egufe Yafugborhi; Emma Una; Chioma Onuegbu; Peter Duru; Marie-Therese Nanlong; Steve Oko; Ozioruva Aliu,Daniel Abia; Rotimi Ojomoyela, Adeola Badru & Laolu Elijah
CITIZENS, weekend, lamented the ever-increasing incapacity of millions of Nigerians to put food on their tables, calling on President Ahmed Tinubu to radically, and directly, trim down the cost of governance. They said an average Nigerian was suffering, yet, irritatingly, the executive undertakes wasteful expenditures, while the legislature turned its eyes from the appalling extravaganza.
Our govt shameless
— Sara-Igbe, PANDEF leader
A chieftain of the pan -Niger Delta Elders Forum, PANDEF, Chief Anabs Sara-Igbe, told Saturday Vanguard in Port Harcourt, Rivers State: “This government is very insensitive to the plight of Nigerians. My advice will not matter to them. This government does not have any shame. They do not even care whether ordinary Nigerians survive or not. They are wasting money in this country, while millions of Nigerians are dying on daily basis because of hunger and other avoidable circumstances.
“I am tired of this country. What is happening here cannot happen in other developed climes. We cannot continue to spend money on frivolities when the millions of people are suffering. The cost of living is so high, yet government is spending billions on daily basis on things that do not matter.
Hard times are here
— Mene, ILoT scribe
The Secretary, Itsekiri leaders of Thought , ILoT, in Delta State, Sir Sunny Mene, who spoke in Warri, said, “Nigerians are very critical of the Federal Government proposed 2024 Budgetary allocations because the average Nigerian is passing through very difficult times. The current hyper inflation and the removal of subsidy on petroleum products have exposed Nigerians to hardship.The Federal Government has repeatedly said that it was aware of what Nigerians are going through. On this backdrop, the government must endeavor to reduce the cost of governance.
Govt testing the patience of Nigerians — Effiong, activist
A human rights lawyer and activist, Inibehe Effiong, asserted, “It just shows that President Tinubu is completely alienated from the people of Nigeria. In addition, it shows that they have no regards for the sensibility of the Nigerian people at a time the country cannot even cater for its most basic responsibilities including payment of salary. His actions do not reflect the attitude of someone that appreciates the very dire economic situation in the country. Therefore, for me it is condemnable. The right thing to do is for those outrageous budgetary proposals to be expunged. Nigeria does not even have the money to cater for those ridiculous proposals that they want to spend money on. “Those monies can be used to fund the education sector, invest in the health sector and so on, and not to dissipate them on frivolities. In fact, I think government is testing the patience of Nigerians just like Buhari’s. That is my position.”
Our office holders have no conscience —Gbemre
National Coordinator, Niger Delta Peace Coalition, Zik Gbemre, asked aloud, “When shall we have political messiahs like Nelson Mandela of South Africa and Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore? When shall we have responsible lawmakers who will checkmate the excesses of the executives in Nigeria? “We hear of presidential yacht, car allowances to lawmakers, vice presidential residence upgrade and now, we hear of 420 delegates to Dubai for climate change conference. More sleazes are still coming out, more are unreported. What will 420 or 590 delegates do in the so-called climate change conference in which Nigeria will merely make the numbers as nominal participants?
There is nothing significant Nigeria will contribute to the conference that some of us have not said in the past since 1999 that these delegates will say. How morally justified for Nigeria to be in the gathering for climate change with such bloated delegation when Nigeria is still flaring gas? Few days ago, I had cause to mention how they recklessly flare Nigeria gas, and some ignorant people are happy to attend climate change conference in Dubai to waste public resources. “In 2018, Nigeria lost $761.6 million to gas flaring according to experts, and between January 2022 and 2023, data obtained from National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency has shown that Nigeria lost N843billion to gas flaring.
It is shameful that Nigerian leaders and hangers-on are attending global summits talking of climate change when gas is still being flared, and no plan is in place to utilize the natural gas that they flare. The climate summit is another opportunity for empowering idle people in the name of patronage. Wonders will not stop in Nigeria.
Hunger decimating Nigerians- Mumakhai, ex- presidential aspirant
A frontline lawyer and former presidential aspirant on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Alhaji Mumakhai Unagha, fumed: “This is another government we call ‘Paddy Paddy, Chop, I chop government,’ according to our music legend, the late Fela Anikulapo Kuti. It seems the government is not for the common person; hence, they could not justify the overblown delegation to Dubai.
It is absolute recklessness, wastage of economic resources of sending 50 delegates, let alone 1441 persons from Nigeria to Dubai for climate change. I just hope that Mr. President will not continue in that way. Nigerians are hungry, dying on a daily bases due to hunger, yet the Federal Government, and its agencies will be gladly involved in such a wasteful venture. It calls for sober reflection.
There is no justification at all. Someone somewhere will be taking the nation for granted. I hope that this administration may not be worse than that of the former president. When I raised the alarm of maladministration of the previous government, they accused me of anti party activity, but the situation today has vindicated me. At a time when an average Nigerian cannot put food on their tables, lawmakers appropriated to themselves billions of naira for vehicles, very regrettable.
“This is the government we thought would depart and move away from the previous ones. They can renovate the VP’s house but they do not need such staggering amount.
Balance expenditure with basic facilities —Ekiyor, ex-IYC president
Erstwhile president of the Ijaw Youth Council, IYC, Dr. Chris Ekiyor, said, “What borders me is that sometimes because of the level of hunger and the deprivation of the people, most of us down the ladder, when we hear those figures, they give us headache.
The government should be thinking of improving the economy, provide comfortable business environment for the low income earners, there should be deliberate infrastructure that will put people on the job so that people are working and are paying their bills. Nobody will bother what the government is spending for itself, but where the people have no jobs and the government is spending so much, the people will begin to feel that the government does not care about them.
I think that the government should carry out its responsibilities and balance the standard of living of the people. For instance, good road infrastructure, housing infrastructure, agriculture should be going concurrently with the present expenditure they are doing.
Bring in capable professionals, technocrats —Will, legal practitioner
A legal practitioner and President, Ijaw Professionals Association (Homeland chapter, comprising Bayelsa, Delta & Rivers), Iniruo Wills, said in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State: “To change this unsustainable trajectory, I have only one overarching recommendation, which is nothing novel. The President should intentionally scout and infuse an army of patriotic professionals and technocrats into the policy and implementation environment, across all sectors. Many more of the likes of Bosun Tijani and Taiwo Oyedele, with national spread of course. Even the jamboree-seeming COP 28 attendance can be strategically converted to capital.
Govt confounded —Dr. Ekwueme, varsity don
Bemoaning FG’s spending, a university don, Dr Okoro Ekwueme, said, “Six months gone, all that the government has to show for, is profligacy, odious activities, and decisions completely at variance with the state of our economy. While inflation is skyrocketing, the naira crashing, people committing suicide, and most Nigerians going through hardship never experienced before, what the Presidency and National Assembly are doing is to exhibit their avaricious fangs. How can you take 600 people to a conference on environment outside the shores of this country? Even if the conference were holding in Nigeria, hosting such a large contingent would cost a fortune, not to talk of taking them outside the country where they would need financial benefits in foreign currencies.
Day of long knives not far —Kidzu, journalist
A journalist and politician, Dominic Kidzu, painted a bleak future for the country, saying, “After years of so-called fledgling democracy, Nigeria has made a complete about-turn to the satirical Animal Farm where all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others. It is now unarguable that George Orwell saw far into today’s Nigeria, even then. Today, there are clearly two sets of rules operating in the difficult economy which was itself created by the glutinous elite. The first one is that the poor masses should tighten their belly-belts and sacrifice, while the second rule permits the ruling class to continue to enjoy the full complement of their exotic privileges while at the helm of affairs.
Politicians want to enchain citizens —Morris, ex- CLO chair
Former chair, Civil Liberties Organization (CLO) Bayelsa State chapter, Alagoa Morris, said: “Nigeria would be studied in political circles around the world and the outcome would be ridiculous and embarrassing. If Nigerians do not successfully challenge and halt this sort of prodigal flamboyant lifestyle, they would become real laughing stock, and enslaved by those they give political power.
If, really, the electorate are the employers of the President and legislators, as it ordinarily should be; I am convinced this scenario will not be playing out. A country sailing on indebtedness and borrowing cannot afford to massage the luxurious lifestyle of those employed by the masses and at the expense of public good. These political office holders should rather be thinking, and taking actions that will fix the economy and infrastructural deficit. They should make sacrifices and not seeking comfort at the expense of the collective good.
Revamp economic team, make refineries work—Odi, retiree
A retiree, Chris Odi, said, “Whichever way one looks at it, there is absolutely no way one can reconcile the reckless spending of top government officials against the background of the country’s precarious economic situation. How can one explain the fact that government is approving the purchase of luxury cars for lawmakers, cars for wife of the president, renovation of the Vice President’s residence in Abuja and purchase of a presidential yacht when most Nigerian families cannot afford a decent meal a day.
The government is asking the citizens to make sacrifices, but they are not leading by example by making sacrifice themselves. It smacks of criminal insincerity and crass insensitivity. My advice to the government is to fix the refineries to bring down the price of fuel, which has affected several other sectors of the economy; overhaul the government’s economic team; bring in knowledgeable people, who can halt the free fall of the Naira against the dollar; check inflation; and revive ailing industries to engage the army of unemployed youths. “The government also needs to reduce borrowing; stop frivolous spending and above all the President needs to urgently reduce cost of governance by trimming down his appointees.”
Nigeria leaders not for masses —COSEYL
Coalition of South East Youth Leaders, COSEYL, has expressed disappointment over the spending spree of Nigeria leaders, saying they are not in leadership for the masses but to amass wealth at the expense of the people. President General of COSEYL, Comrade Goodluck Ibem, said it was the height of insensitivity for Nigeria leaders to be wasting public funds on budgets that do not have direct bearing on the masses. It’s gross insensitivity and financial recklessness to spend such huge amount of money when the nation is borrowing heavily to run its affairs. Under the administration of President Buhari, the nation was plunged into excessive debt and this current unchecked spending of our resources will lead to economic hardship and deprivation.
Tinubu’s govt inconsiderate, extravagant, should calibrate priorities —FENRAD
Similarly, Foundation for Environmental Rights, Advocacy and Development, FENRAD, has said that the spending culture of the current administration “ is outrageous”. FENRAD Executive Director, Nnanna Nwafor, accused the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s administration of being extravagant with resources, and inconsiderate over the plight of Nigerians.
“The recent revelations surrounding government expenditures in Nigeria have raised concerns and require a thoughtful analysis to reconcile these actions with the prevailing economic situation in the country. The allocation of N160 million for each lawmaker to purchase a car, coupled with other substantial allowances, raises questions about the prioritization of public funds.
The approval of N5 billion for a presidential yacht adds to the impunity, as it may be perceived as an extravagant use of resources. In the context of the economic challenges facing Nigeria, including inflation, unemployment, and a widening wealth gap, such allocations draw attention to the need for fiscal responsibility and prudent financial management.
Citizens deserve clarity on how public funds are utilized and the extent to which these allocations contribute to the overall well-being of the nation. In light of economic challenges, it is essential for the government to justify such expenditures and ensure that they align with the immediate needs of the population.
Outrageous expenditures by FG unacceptable, inhuman —MBF
The Middle Belt Forum, MBF, has described as inhuman and unacceptable the outrageous expenditures being recorded by the All Progressives Congress, APC, led Federal Government in the face of biting hunger in the country.
The National President of MBF, Dr. Bitrus Pogu who was reacting to the development in Makurdi pointed out that “this government came in when there were issues of litigation and all sorts of things. Now that the judgements are over, we expect that the government will now sit down to work for the progress of Nigeria.
“For the reason of the hardship that Nigerians are going through which is induced by the petrol subsidy removal, it is expected that the government will be more prudent in its expenditure and also ensure that Nigerians have a feel that the government is a government of the people that goes along with the ordinary people and not a government of the rich, by the rich and for the rich. “So these expenditures that we are hearing are uncalled for, they are outrageous and a prudent government that means well for this country at a time like this when our economy has nosedived, when a Dollar exchanges for about N1,200 and the prices of things have skyrocketed, shouldn’t be wasteful. l.”
According to Barr. Solomon Maren, “I consider this expenditure as brazen display of insensitivity and utter disdain for the over 150 million multi dimensionally poor Nigerians. Of course, these frivolities did not start with this government, politicians in Nigeria have proven to be the same. Like Mr Falana, SAN in his interview with Channels TV said, politicians in Nigeria are by the actions just hastening the day of revolution in the country.”
A Gender Activist, Paulina Danjuma added, “Nigeria is currently at its worst state ever with common, basic amenities out of the reach of the common man. Prices have skyrocketed to the extent that those who used to eat three times a day have cut down to two and in some cases one. Unfortunately the condition of Nigerians does not seem to register in the minds of our leaders. Most of them are not in touch with the reality of what our people are going through. Nigerians are suffering and the government that said they are going to bring succour to the people are spending such humongous amount of money for people to attend a summit, so I ask for whose benefit is that summit? We’re tired of government after government going abroad for one conference or summit claiming that it will attract investors, partnerships with foreign countries and agencies but it has yielded little or nothing over the years.
To citizen Matthew Tegha, ”I feel it is essential to approach these issues with a constructive mindset, advocating for positive change and holding government officials accountable. I will engage in informed and peaceful activism because I believe that as citizens we should contribute to building a more responsible and accountable government.
“The situations highlight apparent discrepancies between government spending and the economic challenges faced by the country. As a concerned citizen, I find it disconcerting that significant amounts of money are allocated for luxury items and non-essential expenses while the economic situation remains challenging for many citizens. As a citizen, it is within my right to demand accountability and advocate for transparency in government spending.”
A Public Affairs Analyst, Hon Ayo Fadaka, said, “It is absolutely unfortunate that we do not have a government conscious of the challenges confronting the economy and the burdens on the citizenry.
All that matters to the current administration and its operatives across board, both at the Executive and Legislature is their personal comfort at all cost and not a bit of sacrifice for the nation, thereby justifying the tag of “greedy” on every politician. The two administrations of APC at the Federal level have clearly displayed a lack of competence at managing the affairs of our nation in an efficacious manner.
President Tinubu is yet to settle down to proper governance, his administration is yet to impact positively on the life of an average Nigerian, his policies have pauperised us, and many have been sent to early graves on account of poverty, yet they continue to dance acrobatically on these graves. I fear for our democracy, very seriously. When a leadership or the ruling class detaches itself from the people it leads, the recipe for a crisis is complete, therefore the backlash is at hand. The Tinubu administration is not strategic in thinking, approach and actions, it is just living each day as it comes, just the way Buhari did and piloted the nation into this terrible mess. It will be a shame if the actions and inactions of these careless politicians cast a death knell on this republic, I just hope and pray that they do the needful earnestly, a stitch in time may actually save hundreds.
Mr Wole Adeboyejo, a Public Affairs analyst and a Computer expert in Oyo views it as complete insensitivity on the part of the government. He said, “The government and the political class are not sensitive to the plight of Nigerians. They want us to persevere for a little time but have decided to exclude themselves which is evident in their reckless spending. It is doubtful they understand what the common man on the street is going through”.
Adeola Fehintola, legal practitioner from Oke Ogun area of the state said, “There is no conceivable justification for such greed by the few ruling class at anytime, profligacy is now an understatement. The quest by this present administration for citizens to sacrifice for better future of this country is already defeated and defective as the ruling class is now seen as the only that will have the dividends of our collective sacrifices and commonwealth”.
Mr Peter Idowu, also a prominent lawyer in Oyo gave a knock on the government noting that with this show of greed, it is doubtful if the government can take the country out of the doldrums that it is in now. His words: “It is an abnormality of huge magnitude that no one can explain the rationale behind.”
They all advised President Tinubu to cut all this unnecessary spending so that the confidence people are building for his government will not be eroded.
According to Barr. Ojoge Daniels, “It is clear that Nigeria is facing an economic crisis, and yet the government continues to waste taxpayer money on unnecessary and excessive spending. This is not only financially irresponsible, but it also sends the wrong message to the Nigerian people who are struggling to make ends meet. The people of Nigeria deserve better, and they deserve to know where their money is going.”
Chief Yékini Adeojo, a political leader in the state, said: “It is deeply disheartening to see the government continue to squander taxpayer money on frivolities, while the people struggle to make ends meet. “It is a clear sign of the disconnect between those in power and the reality of life for ordinary Nigerians.” Adeojo called for the government to prioritize spending on social programmmes and infrastructure that would benefit the average citizen, rather than on projects that only benefit a few people.
A social commentator, Prince Bola Ajibola, advised the government of President Bola Tinubu to stop the culture of wasteful spending a d focus on making sure that our people have access to basic services such as healthcare. “We must stop this culture of wasteful spending, and instead focus on making sure that our people have access to basic services such as healthcare, education, and clean water. These are the things that will truly make a difference in the lives of Nigerians, not fancy vehicles or luxury trips.”
Ajibola also criticized the lack of transparency in government spending, saying that: “there is no excuse for the government to be spending money without full disclosure and accountability.” He called for greater oversight and transparency in the budgeting process, so that Nigerians can have a clear understanding of how their money is being spent.
Mr Lanre Ogunsuyi, Former Commissioner for Information and Civic Orientation, in Ekiti state, said, “My reaction is to appeal to the government of Nigeria as represented by the officials to reflect the true situation of the country and to know that we are trying to borrow money to finance the budget and to stop any act that might be perceived by the public as act of profligacy. “All these mind bugling amount will further dampen the spirit of Nigerians.
“People are becoming discouraged, discordant and totally disenchanted with the government and the management of information is poor and is laughable that government does not know the exact number of people who attended the climate change conference. Every patriot is worried that government is making itself unbelievable, if we say there is no money, that is why we have to increase everything including import duties and then some people are spending money as if it is going out of fashion, the people will soon lose trust in government and that will be an unfortunate thing, because we look at the cost of election in this country and the results we got from that election itself are not making the people happy”