The Labour Party (LP) candidate in the last presidential election, Mr Peter Obi has said the N20.5 billion proposed for in the 2024 budget for the renovation and building of new office space for the vice president’s residence is not a priority.
Though Obi said he is still studying the N27.5 trillion budget presented to the National Assembly by President Bola Tinubu last week, but wondered at what he called the level of waste on nonessential things when the people are suffering and dropping into multi-dimensional poverty in droves.
The former Anambra State governor in his X handle on Monday described as shocking and disheartening the budgetary provision of N15 billion for the construction of a new residence for the vice president, considering the many important challenges facing the country.
He recalled that in the supplementary budget earlier presented to the National Assembly by the president, the sum of N2.5 billion was included for the renovation of the vice president’s residence in Abuja, “which means that he already has a residence.
“Again, during the budget presentation, I heard the sum of N3 billion was allocated for the renovation of the vice president’s residence in Lagos.
“If we total all these sums, we would have budgeted the sum of N20.5 billion for the housing of the vice president at this critical time when we are not just the world’s poverty capital, but more people falling into poverty, with so many Nigerians not knowing where their next meal will come from.
“Our health facilities have collapsed, and unemployment is skyrocketing. I am convinced that 99.9 percent of Nigerians can only dream of living in the current residence of the vice president.”
The former governor also stated that several university workers are not being paid salaries, noting that “the salary of a professor in a Nigerian university is about N400,000, which without removing tax is about N5 million a year.
“What we have budgeted for the housing of the Vice President who is already luxuriously housed is, therefore, the annual salary of about 3000 professors!
“This is the finance needed to develop the much-needed human capital.
“The budget of N5 billion for student loans, which is yet to be disbursed is only a tiny percentage of the cost of the vice president’s new home.”
According to Obi, Nigeria is projecting “to use four times the amount for educating all Nigerian indigent students to house the vice president, and we are being told there is nothing wrong with us.
“I am sure the major teaching hospitals in Nsukka, Lagos, Ibadan, and Zaria did not receive this much capital vote in the budget this year.
“We have had leaders that were exemplary in the past. Most Nigerians may not know that the popular 1004 flats in Lagos, was land allocated for the building of a presidential mansion for the then head of state, General Murtala Mohammed but he sternly turned down the offer and instructed that the land should be used to build blocks of flats for civil servants. That is the kind of sacrificial leadership worth emulating.
“Our leaders must therefore stop the recklessness and insensitivity to the plight of the masses.
“We need leaders who show compassion and are willing to sacrifice for common progress and development. Such compassionate and frugal leaders are critical in our journey to the new Nigeria.”