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The Federal Government of Nigeria is currently drawing flak over the decision of the President Muhammadu-led administration to spend the sum of N1.4bn to purchase vehicles for the Niger Republic government.
Late yesterday, a document found its way into the public space from the Nigerian Budget Office indicating that President Buhari approved the spending of N1.4bn on vehicles for Government officials in the Niger Republic.
The lid was blown on the saga by a Nigerian Journalist, David Hundeyin who tweeted a document showing that President Buhari, had approved about 10 Toyota Land Cruiser vehicles to the Republic of Niger valued at about N1.4bn.
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Hundeyin stated that “I’m going to put this on Twitter because this needs to be out there. I’ve got hold of a budget office document showing @MBuhari approving N1.4 billion to buy vehicles for the government of the Niger Republic. I went ahead to confirm the account details provided in the document and sure enough, it checks out.
Why is @MBuhari’s government purchasing vehicles for a foreign government? Is this an extension of the same nonsensical decision-making that saw it prioritise a railway to Maradi? He asked.
The report has since caused outrage and agitation among Nigerians as to why the government would make such decisions while public universities in the country are shut down due to the ongoing strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, (ASUU).
What angered many Nigerians more is the fact that the country is currently facing a fiscal crisis, as the government spends nearly all its revenues on debt servicing.
According to Prince Tyodoo Livinus, he wondered what the attraction is between the Niger Republic and Nigeria which has Nigeria investing so much in the country.
“It is becoming obvious that everything about the Buhari/APC-led government is tilting towards the direction of the Niger Republic. If there should be any time to take seriously Nnamdi Kanu’s postulations and the president’s declaration on a live TV interview that he has cousins in the Niger Republic, that time is now.
From building Rail lines to Niger to Pipelines and now purchase of cars. The government will in a matter of time create the Ministry of Niger Republic Affairs and appoint an indigene of that country as Minister. No wonder, 5 Governors from the north who are mostly hit by banditry were bestowed with awards of honour on security in the Niger Republic today” he vented.
Similarly, Abasiama Cyril lamented FG’s decision to support the Niger Republic at the expense of Nigerians.
“Unbelievable, supporting a neighbouring country at the expense of her citizens who wallow in abject poverty. What sought of holier than thou attitude is this? We haven’t finished fixing the ailing economy and our money is used to purchase vehicles for another country. It’s the lack of shame they have, to say this, that beats my imagination. The APC-led administration has really failed her citizens. What do we call this callousness? He asked rhetorically.
Ademuwagun Opeyemi Clement differs in his submission. He urged Nigerians to shun negativity and remember that Nigeria is the father of all African nations. He also espoused that the Federal Government must have a reason for the gesture.
“Don’t know why Nigerians think negatively all the time. Remember that Nigeria is the father of all African countries. In essence grants to Nigeria by developed countries in areas of water, medical equipment, immunization, and military equipment should be rejected and sent back to them. Stop being selfish. FG must have reasons for this” he wrote.
Kennedy Chigozie said “ASUU has been on strike for some months now, every day kidnapping for ransom, no good road, no electricity and the so-called govt don’t care instead they are helping their so-called neighbours, God will judge all of you” he vented.
Vealumun Paul Ansbert is no different in his argument. “Even though we owe that country no obligation? Yet the government ignores the obligation it has toward our professors and the entire education system.
The biggest security threat is the thousands of energetic and very creative young people who can’t go to school and who have no jobs. They will surely use that energy and creativity negatively against society. #Shame” he added.
Grace Olayinka Famaye wondered how a country still battling insecurity can spend so much on addressing another country’s insecurity.
“Nigeria is not secured, you are bothered with another man land, well you people in our government are not Nigerians, you people are using our money to fix your own country, well I blame Nigerians supporting this government,” she wrote.
Meanwhile, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning Zainab Ahmed justified the purchase of the vehicles on Wednesday while fielding questions from journalists after the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting.
She said President Buhari approved the purchase of the vehicles, which the neighbouring West African country would use in fighting insecurity.
The minister said helping the Niger Republic with such support was not new to Nigeria.
Briefing journalists on Wednesday, Ahmed said it was Buhari’s prerogative to approve the purchase, adding that she could not question his decision.
According to her, the Nigerien Government asked for support.
It would be recalled that Niger borders Nigeria in the North-West. Dan Issa, one of Niger’s closest towns (in the Maradi Region), is 133 kilometres from Daura, Buhari’s hometown in Katsina State.
In 2020, the Nigerian government approved a rail project construction from Kano to Maradi (in Niger) at $1.9 billion.
The decision enraged many Nigerians who thought funding for the project and others in the country was from loans the government took from China that should be invested in what would directly benefit citizens.
But the Presidency defended its action, claiming that former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration started the project.
The President also disclosed that his cousins are from the Niger Republic.