While representing her husband at a church service in Abuja, hours before his inauguration, Oluremi Tinubu, wife of the president claimed her family is so wealthy they didn’t need Nigeria’s money, yet six months into office, a pattern of predatory spending by the first family and their hangers-on, belie such claims.
“Nigeria’s wealth is the commonwealth of all. It belongs to everyone. God has blessed my family. We don’t need the wealth of Nigeria to survive but to do the right thing. And I promise you on this altar, that with your help, with the help of God, we will set this nation on the right path.”
In a country where more than half of its population is living in deep poverty and where bread is becoming a luxury item, the country’s president, a billionaire who claimed to be richer than a state, submitted a N2.1 trillion supplementary budget to lawmakers, of which 1.33 percent or N28bn is allocated to adorning his office, including the purchase of vehicles for his wife worth over N1.5bn.
Since the Nigerian constitution has no provision for the office of the first lady, the president is effectively urging lawmakers to approve the purchase of luxury vehicles for his wife.
In the proposed budget about N5.09 billion is allocated for the purchase of a yacht, N2.9 billion for sport utility vehicles for the Presidential Villa, and another N2.9 billion for the replacement of operational vehicles for the presidency.
Supporters of the president had claimed it was going to be purchased by the navy but regardless of who is buying or using it, a yacht is still a needless luxury at a time of economic pain.
The government allocated N4 billion for the construction of an office complex in Aso Rock while N2.5 billion will be used for the renovation of the Vice-President’s official residence in Lagos. In all, N28 billion is proposed for the State House.
It plans to spend N12.5 billion on the Presidential Air Fleet.
The presidential fleet includes Boeing Business Jet (Boeing 737-800 or NAF 001), one Gulfstream 550, one Gulfstream V (Gulfstream 500), two Falcons 7X, one Hawker Sidley 4000, two AgustaWestland AW 139 helicopters and two AgustaWestland AW 101 helicopters.
Across social media platforms, Nigerians have been horrified at this president’s inability to read the room.
“Nigeria has a spending problem, not a revenue problem. 2023, Supplementary Budget – Student Loan N5b, Presidential Yacht N5b
I am so done…..We have jokers running the nation. Absolute jokers,” Kalu Ajah, an economist posted on the social media platform “X”, formally Twitter.
Another person posted: “Elizabeth II was compelled to give up the royal yacht Britannia due to economic reasons. For the same reasons, Jimmy Carter sold off the US Presidential yacht in the ’70s.
Look at these clowns.”
With his election affirmed by the Supreme Court last week, Bola Ahmed Tinubu has the weakest mandate of any Nigerian president since 1999 yet he has embarked upon the most far-reaching reforms that have impoverished millions including removing petrol subsidies and floating the naira.
Oil production is at its lowest in decades as Africa’s largest oil producer can’t even produce enough crude to feed local refineries. This has crimped dollar supply forcing the country to arrange to borrow against future NLNG dividends to pay for imports today.
Nigeria’s total public debt doubled within a period of one year hitting N87.4 trillion in the second quarter of 2023, and the country is shopping for another $7.9billion loan from multilateral agencies.
The president who has constituted a committee to streamline taxes and bring more Nigerians into the tax net, has sent a budget for approval that continues a pattern of wasteful spending.
During his first visit to Lagos, the president was led to his house in a convoy of over a hundred vehicles shortly after announcing “subsidy gone”
On his first official visit to the United States, Tinubu and his cronies also made headlines for spending millions of dollars on hotel rooms when the country had a facility he could have used and saved taxpayers money.
Nigerians are also expressing frustration over the plaint lawmakers including members of the opposition parties, whose worshipful reverence of the president aligns well with their own rapacious inclinations.