By Biodun Busari
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to demand a refund of the N1.4 billion given to Niger Republic for the purchase of official vehicles.
SERAP made the demand on its verified Twitter handle.
Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, on Wednesday, confirmed that the Federal Government approved N1.4 billion for the “supply of 10 Toyota Land Cruiser V8 vehicles to the Republic of Niger.”
The minister said Nigeria has always been providing such interventions to neighbouring countries including Chad, Cameroon, and many others.
Ahmed explained that Buhari reserved the right to take decisions in the interest of the country and its citizens.
“Let me just say that over time, 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 has assisted the Niger Republic, Cameroon or Chad.
“The President makes an assessment as to what is required based on the request of their Presidents. Such requests are approved and interventions are provided.
“It is to enhance their capacity to protect their countries, as it relates to security and also to Nigeria.
“Nigerians have the right to ask questions, but also the President has the responsibility to make an assessment of what is in the best interest of the country and I cannot question the decision myself,” she said.
However, Nigerians have shown disapproval over the gift, especially in the face of crisis such as the nearly six-month strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
Reacting to this, SERAP tweeted, “The Buhari administration must immediately ask Niger Republic authorities to refund the N1.4 billion approved for them to buy vehicles, and use the money to offset the funding for ASUU, so those poor children can go back to school”.