Criticism continues to trail the ‘insensitive’ gift of N1.4billion for the purchase of luxurious vehicles by President Muhammadu Buhari to the government of Niger Republic.
Adewole Adebayo, presidential candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), said the decision is a disaster and it shows the country is not broke as the government would want Nigerians to believe.
Adebayo spoke on Wednesday during an interview on Channels Television.
David Hundeyin, a journalist, had released a document online indicating that the president approved the sum of N1.14 billion for the contract, awarded to IFO Kaura Motors Nig. Limited, to supply 10 units of Toyota Land Cruisers to Niger Republic.
Confirming the transaction, Zainab Ahmed, the Minister of Finance, said it was approved by the President for the purpose of building the country’s internal security.
She said: “The president makes an assessment as to what is required based on the request of their presidents. Such requests are approved, and interventions were provided. It is to enhance their capacity to protect their countries, as it relates to security and also to Nigeria.”
The SDP presidential candidate however described the donation as a “disaster” for Buhari to take such a decision at a time when Nigerians are battling hunger
“Money is not the problem of Nigeria. People have been saying the government is broke. The government is not broke. I have been saying this for many months now. The government is not broke. The government is broken, so the money of the government is now entering private hands.
“ASUU money is even there. I hope nobody believes that the reason ASUU is on strike is because the government has no money. No! ASUU is on strike because the government has money and people in government want to keep spending that ASUU money. They don’t want to give it to the university. It is not as if there is no money for ASUU.
“The government also has money for military hardware; what they have not been managing is the procurement discipline, accountability and monitoring. That is where the problem lies.
“If it is done for security, even the minister of finance who is approving it will not even know what she is approving. Ideally, it will come under an omnibus budget for an agency that is responsible for that kind of operation.
“What they did looks like a gift being given by the president of Nigeria to a foreign country at a time when Nigerians are hungry, when Nigerians are looking for the basic living. It is a disaster.”