August 15, 2022

Why always Niger Republic?

out-of-school children

IN April this year, the Federal Government disclosed that the railway line it is constructing to Maradi, a city in a foreign country, Niger Republic, would start operation in 2023.

The project costs Nigerian taxpayers $1.8 billion. It is being financed with foreign loans, meaning that we and our children will pay for it. The dog will eat excrement and the goat will suffer the rotten teeth. There is no proof that this project was approved by the National Assembly, which is constitutionally empowered to control and monitor our national purse. The Assembly has failed to make the president to explain his action.

Early last week, David Hundeyin, a publisher and investigator, published an official document of the Federal Ministry of Finance on Twitter, showing that President Buhari approved the sum of N1.145 billion for the purchase of ten Toyota Land Cruiser V8 cars for the government of Niger Republic.

Shortly after this expose, Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, confirmed the spending. She justified it by claiming that it was approved to help our Northern neighbour with its security. The justification fell flat because, apart from the inflated cost, this calibre of Toyota cars belongs to the luxury line.

Surely, Nigerians are eagerly waiting for the end of this regime, ten months hence, so that they can open up the books and get answers to so many questions. One of such is the regime’s penchant to dip its hand into our treasury and play the “Big Brother” without due process.

In April this year, it gave away one million US Dollars to the government of Afghanistan without appropriation.  Which law permits a Nigerian president to recklessly throw our money around, more so as we have so many needs of our own?

For instance, our colonial Eastern rail network remains comatose. Yet, in June 2021, President Buhari’s only justification for the expensive gift to Niger Republic was that he had his family members there! This is a classic case of misplaced priority and financial misappropriation which is a criminal offence.

Here is a debt-riddled nation where university lecturers have been on strike for over six months due to the government’s inability to fulfill its financial obligations. We do not even have enough to take care of our own security challenges, yet the little we have is wasted on flights of fancy. There is nothing wrong in assisting a needy neighbour, but it must be done through due process.

It is unfortunate that our National Assembly which was created to hold the Executive in check over matters like this, has abdicated its responsibility. Our rubber-stamp National Assembly has rendered itself irrelevant.

When the legislators come back from break, they must still do their job for which we pay them.