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2024 budget: Obi kicks against N20.5b proposal for  VP’s house, office

Peter Obi | File Photo

.Says it’s not a priority

‘We are projecting to use four times the amount for educating all Nigerian indigent students to house the Vice President, and we are being told  there is nothing wrong with us’

By Valentine Amanze

The Labour Party (LP) presidential candidate in the February 25, 2023 general election, Mr. Peter Obi, has again hit hard on the All Progressives Congress (APC) administration for its financial recklessness, as he condemned the government’s injection of a whooping N20.5 billion in the 2024 budget for the Vice President’s Abuja house and office renovation.

Obi, who had faulted President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for embarking on the ongoing COP28 jamboree in Dubai, with the largest delegates (1,411), wondered why N20.5 billion would be used for house renovation and building of a new office space for the vice president in the midst of high level poverty in the land.

The LP flagbearer, who expressed his feeling in X handle (@PeterObi), said that he was still studying the N27.5 trillion budget presented to the National Assembly last week.

He lamented the level of waste on nonessential things when the people were suffering and dropping into multi-dimensional poverty in droves.

Also read: Obi decries Tinubu’s large contingent at COP28 in Dubai

His words: “Even as I am still studying the 2024 fiscal budget as presented to the National Assembly last week, I cannot wait as am compelled to ask what is exactly wrong with us as a country?

“I ask this question because it is hard for me to understand some of the recent happenings in our nation in these critical times.

“The recent news about a budget provision of N15 billion for the construction of a new residence for the Vice President is both shocking and disheartening, considering the many important challenges facing our nation.

“Just recently in the Supplementary Budget, the sum of N2.5 billion was included for the renovation of the Vice President’s residence in Abuja, which means that he already has a residence. Again, during the budget presentation, I heard the sum of N3 billion was allocated for the renovation of the Vice President’s residence in Lagos. If we total all these sums, we would have budgeted the sum of N20.5 billion for the housing of the Vice President at this critical time when we are not just the world’s poverty capital, but more people falling into poverty, with so many Nigerians not knowing where their next meal will come from.

“Our health facilities have collapsed, and unemployment is skyrocketing. I am convinced that 99.9% of Nigerians can only dream of living in the current residence of the Vice President.”

Obi said that he was worried that several people employed in the universities were not being paid.

“Just to give an example, the salary of a professor in a Nigerian university is about N400,000, which without removing tax is about N5 million a year. What we have budgeted for the housing of the Vice President who is already luxuriously housed is, therefore, the annual salary of about 3000 professors!

“This is the finance needed to develop the much-needed human capital.

“The budget of N5 billion for student loans, which is yet to be disbursed, is only a tiny percentage of the cost of the Vice President’s new home.”

The Anambra State former governor said, “We are projecting to use four times the amount for educating all Nigerian indigent students to house the Vice President, and we are being told  there is nothing wrong with us.

“I am sure the major teaching hospitals in Nsukka, Lagos, Ibadan, and Zaria did not receive this much capital vote in the budget this year.

“We have had leaders that were exemplary in the past. Most Nigerians may not know that the popular 1004 flats in Lagos, was land allocated for the building of a Presidential Mansion for the then Head of State, General Murtala Mohammed, but he  “sternly” turned down the offer and instructed that the land be used to build blocks of flats for civil servants. That is the kind of sacrificial leadership worth emulating.

“Our leaders must therefore stop the recklessness and insensitivity to the plight of the masses. We need leaders who show compassion and are willing to sacrifice for common progress and development. Such compassionate and frugal leaders are critical in our journey to the New Nigeria.”

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