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Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Nigeria’s authorities budgets for SUVs and president’s spouse whereas tens of millions wrestle to make ends meet

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ABUJA, Nigeria — Nigeria’s lawmakers on Thursday authorised the brand new authorities’s first supplemental price range, which incorporates big allocations for SUVs and homes for the president, his spouse and different public officers, sparking anger and criticism from residents in one of many world’s poorest international locations.

Within the price range introduced to lawmakers to complement the nation’s expenditures for 2023, the federal government had allotted about $38 million for the presidential air fleet, autos and for renovation of residential quarters for the workplace of the president, the vice-president and the president’s spouse — despite the fact that her workplace isn’t acknowledged by the nation’s structure.

Earlier than the price range was authorised, and dealing with growing criticism, lawmakers eradicated $6.1 million earlier budgeted for a “presidential yacht” and moved it to “pupil loans.”

A Nigerian presidential spokesman mentioned President Bola Tinubu had not given approval for the yacht, whose allocation was supplied below the Nigerian Navy’s price range.

The nation’s Nationwide Meeting just lately confirmed that greater than 460 federal lawmakers will every get SUVs — reportedly price greater than $150,000 every — which, they mentioned, would allow them to do their work higher. Native media reported that the lawmakers have began receiving the autos.

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“All of this speaks to the gross insensitivity of the Nigerian political class and the rising degree of impunity we now have within the nation,” mentioned Oluseun Onigbinde, who based Nigerian fiscal transparency group BudgIT.

The allocations reminded many Nigerians of the financial inequality in a rustic the place politicians earn big salaries whereas important staff like medical doctors and lecturers typically go on strike to protest meager wages.

Consultants, who’re among the many best-paid medical doctors in Nigeria, earn round $500 a month. After a number of strikes this 12 months, civil servants bought the federal government to lift their minimal wage to $67 a month, or 4 cents an hour.

Such steep expenditure on vehicles in a rustic the place surging public debt is consuming up a lot of the federal government’s dwindling revenues present its “lack of priorities” and raises questions in regards to the lack of scrutiny within the authorities’s price range course of and spending, mentioned Kalu Aja, a Nigerian monetary analyst.

Kingsley Ujam, a dealer working on the well-liked Space 1 market in Nigeria’s capital metropolis of Abuja, mentioned he struggles to feed his household and has misplaced hope within the authorities to offer for his or her wants.

“They (elected officers) are solely there for his or her pockets,” mentioned Ujam.

It’s not the primary time Nigerian officers are being accused of losing public funds.

That custom should cease, starting with the president “making sacrifices for the nation, particularly as weak individuals within the nation are struggling to make ends meet,” mentioned Hamzat Lawal, who leads the Linked Improvement group advocating for public accountability in Nigeria.

He added that Nigeria should strengthen anti-corruption measures and enhance governance constructions for the nation to develop and for residents to dwell a greater life. “We should additionally make public places of work much less engaging so individuals don’t imagine it’s an avenue to get wealthy,” he mentioned.

Whereas Nigeria is Africa’s prime oil producer, continual corruption and authorities mismanagement have left the nation closely reliant on international loans and help, whereas not less than 60% of its residents dwell in poverty.

Austerity measures launched by the newly elected president have drastically reduce incomes and precipitated extra hardship for tens of millions already scuffling with report inflation.

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Comply with AP’s Africa protection at: https://apnews.com/hub/africa



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