It came to SING Nigeria as a rude shock that the Federal Government had approved the sum of 37billion Naira for the renovation of the national Assembly complex in Abuja. It is worrying that at a time that the government is preaching a departure from a reckless past of public expenditure management, it is taking this insensitive cause. We hereby express our undiluted displeasure and disapproval of the choice of the Federal government to invest such a humongous amount in the renovation of a building whose occupants already cost the nation a sizeable amount of money in frivolous salaries and other emoluments.
This expenditure item is proof that the current leadership of the nation has lost touch with the squalid realities in which the Nigerian people are living. This ill-timed and ill-advised expenditure item is an unmistakable sign that the so called “representatives of the people”, are anything but the people’s representatives at the moment, as this expenditure in no way serves the greatest good of a greater number of Nigerians.
For a country with a desperate poverty situation that has not been able to provide funds for unemployment survey by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), are the citizens to assume that the government has no intention of tackling the scary unemployment challenge confronting Nigeria today? It makes for depressing reading that the government would be making such a financial commitment at a time we are taking huge loans to fund the budget, and planning to take on more debt, while Nigeria has become the poverty capital of the world; with over 100million of our compatriots living in multidimensional poverty.
The government of the day still has an opportunity to correct course and reverse this poorly thought out decision. The said sum, being provided for the renovation of a single building, represents about 80% of the capital expenditure component of the Federal Ministry of Health (comprising 22Federal medical Centers and 19 Federal Teaching Hospitals) and 76% of the capital Expenditure provisions for the Federal Ministry of Education (comprising the 100 Unity Schools and 48 Federal Universities). The said sum could have provided 1000 computers, with solar power for each of the 774 Local Government Areas in Nigeria, and set the country up to compete with the likes of India and China in technology dominance.
If Nigeria is indeed sincere about her aspirations of fulfilling her undisputed potential and harnessing the boundless energy for which her citizens are known for, it will be obvious through the choices the leadership in how to invest scarce resources. Government exists to serve the interests of the people and not the other way round, so the government of the day cannot be preaching the need for Nigerians to change their ways while it carries on in the ways of former leaders. It is rather questionable that the said renovation is being done at over four times the original cost of constructing the building.