Peter Obi, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, expressed surprise and concern over the approval of N3 billion to verify the national register of the poor.
A memo sighted by BusinessDay from the chief of staff to the president has revealed that President Bola Tinubu approved the now-suspended minister of humanitarian affairs and disaster management, Betta Edu, for the release of N3 billion to verify the National Social Register, which was initially compiled under former President Muhammadu Buhari.
The leaked memo showed that the president gave his assent on September 14, 2023.
The social register had been created for cash transfers and other social investment programmes.
Reacting to the memo in a statement posted on his X account on Wednesday, Obi faulted the federal government for approving such money for social register verification.
Known for his stance on addressing Nigeria’s governance cost, Obi emphasised the urgent need to tackle this issue decisively.
The former Anambra governor highlighted the sharp contrast between the approved N3 billion and the budget allocated to the National Library, N908,699,435. He lamented the apparent neglect of the national library, a critical infrastructure lacking essential books and educational materials.
He said, “Sadly, this very huge amount approved just for verification of the national register of the poor is more than three times the amount of N908,699,435 which was budgeted for our National Library.”
At a time when workforce training is crucial for productivity, Obi questioned the prioritisation of funds, suggesting that the substantial amount could have been prudently directed towards poverty alleviation. He raised concerns about the irregular data verification for poverty alleviation, emphasising the need for transparency in managing such funds.
The presidential candidate underscored the nation’s challenges, attributing them to the leaders’ failure to prioritise expenditure on critical areas like national development and security.
“The inability of we, the leaders, to prioritise our expenditure and focus on the critical areas of national development and national security are the challenges weighing down on our nation today,” he said.
Obi called for a shift in focus towards societal welfare, especially for the less privileged, to address the pervasive societal ills caused by high levels of poverty.