By Johnbosco Agbakwuru, ABUJA

THE Federal Government, yesterday, justified the approval of  N1.15 billion for the purchase of vehicles for Niger Republic.

This is even as the Niger Republic President, Mohammed Bazoum, honoured six Nigerians as the country marked its 62nd independence anniversary in Niamey.

The six Nigerians are the Jigawa State governor, Mohammad Badaru; his Zamfara State counterpart, Bello Matawalle; Chairman of Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote; Chairman of BUA Cement, Abdulsamad Rabiu; State Chief of Protocol, SCOPE, Ambassador Lawan Kazaure, and the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Domestic Matters, Saiki Abba.

There have been outrage over the Federal Government’s generosity to the neighbouring country as some have questioned why such money should be given to Niger Republic when public universities in Nigeria remained closed for about five months over the inability of the government to meet up with the demands of  ASUU.

The outrage was generated by the move exposed by a popular social media influencer, David Hundeyin.

But the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, when asked to confirm the report, argued that even though Nigerians had the right to question the approval, President Muhammadu Buhari, who approved the purchase, also had the right to make his own assessment on situations and act accordingly.

Responding to questions at the end of the weekly Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting presided over by President Buhari at the Council Chambers, Presidential Villa, Abuja, the minister said Nigeria had a policy of assisting its neighbours to strengthen capacity to deal with insecurity.

According to her, over time, Nigeria has been supporting its neighbours, and that the donation was to enhance the capacity of Niger Republic to maintain security.

She said the President had the liberty to assess what was in the best interest of the country.

While maintaining that the President reserved the right to take decisions in the interest of Nigeria, she said this was not the first time the country was approving such interventions to its neighbours.

She said: “Let me just say that overtime, Nigeria has had to support its neighbours especially the immediate neighbours to enhance their capacity to secure their countries as it relates to us. This is not the first time that Nigeria had assisted Niger Republic, Cameroon or Chad.”

Report had it that the President approved about 10 Toyota Land Cruiser vehicles to the Republic of Niger, but did not, however, specify the purpose for such approval

The document released by the media influencer showed that the president approved the release of the fund on February 22 this year.

The contract to supply the 10 units of Toyoya Land Cruisers was awarded to IFO Kaura Motors Nig. Limited.

Buys N2.68bn security vehicles, gadgets for FCT

Also briefing, the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Mohammed Bello, said FEC approved the procurement of utility vehicles and accessories worth N2.68 billion for use by security agencies in Abuja as recent breaches of security continued to heighten anxiety in the federal capital.

Bello explained that the procurement includes 60 Ford Ranger four-wheelers equipped with relevant gadgets, to be supplied by Coscharis Motors, at a cost of N1.83 billion within two months.

The second part of the contract is for E&S Tech. Ltd to supply various gadgets and accessories to support security agencies in the FCT, at a cost of N847.13 million.

The minister also said  although the approval of the purchases was a regular gesture from government, it coincided with the aftermath of recent unprecedented security challenges in Abuja, including a major prison break and attack on presidential guards by terrorists.

Insists insecurity won’t stop 2023 polls

Responding to a question on the concern raised by some civil society organisations that the worsening insecurity in the country may affect the 2023 election, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said nothing would stop next year’s elections.

He said:  “There will be election I can assure you. The President has said that he has given the security all the needed support. The service chiefs are doing their best and will continue to do their best.”

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