Peter Obi, the Labour Party candidate in the last presidential election, has criticised the Federal Government’s 2024 budget. He highlighted excessive spending on presidential trips and renovation of the vice presidential residence among others as sources of waste. He argued that these funds should be redirected towards critical areas like internal security, healthcare, education, and poverty alleviation.
Obi who served as Anambra State governor between 2006 and 2014 raised the concern in a statement posted on his X account Friday morning.
“The sum of N15.961 billion has been budgeted for trips for the aides of the president and the vice president. If the aides are spending this much, one can extrapolate that their principals, the President, and the Vice President, will spend twice as much, which will be about N30 billion,” he wrote on the microblogging site. “This means that in 2024 the office of the President and Vice President, and their aides will be gulping over N45b for trips alone.”
He further questioned the need for N20 billion earmarked for renovating the President’s and Vice President’s offices, saying the sum apportioned for those projects exceeds the N57 billion allocated for the Police Trust Fund, which is responsible for securing over 200 million Nigerians.
He proposed prioritising internal security by using the allocated N65 billion for travel and renovations to purchase operational vehicles for police stations. He suggested acquiring 2,500 4×4 trucks from local manufacturers like Innoson, which would significantly enhance police mobility and response capabilities.
Obi also underlined the N15 billion earmarked for a new vice presidential residence, suggesting that it could be used to triple the daily fuel allowance for police vehicles, drastically improving their operational efficiency.
Read also: Peter Obi insists 2024 budget is ‘prodigal’
The statement reads: “Furthermore, the office of the Chief Of Staff budgeted N20 billion for the renovation of the President and the Vice President’s offices in Lagos and Abuja and their full ‘digitization’.
“If you add N45 billion, being the least that will be spent on transportation, and N20 billion earmarked for renovations, it comes to about N65 billion, which is more than N57 billion, being the amount passed by the Senate last week for the Police Trust Fund, to secure over 200m people.
“Join me in figuring out the alternatives of what this amount can do in real productive terms for our dear country, especially in a critical area like internal security.
“We have over 5000 Police stations and operations, across the country. Half of these police stations have no functional vehicles. Even those that have been given less than N5000 for fuel in a day, which is why if you are lucky, for prominent people like me, to call the police for any intervention in an emergency, the first thing they tell you is – ‘we have no fuel’.
“Assuming we decide to prioritize our lists and use these resources as most of the trips and the renovations are of no value to our growth and productivity, we can approach local manufacturers like Innoson and others and order 2500 4×4 trucks which as of today cost about N30 million.
“We will be able to get a 20% discount because we are buying in large quantities and paying them upfront. It will amount to N25 million each, which will be N62.5 billion for half of the police stations that do not have operational vehicles today, and which will be taken care of by the money we save from the budgeted travel and renovations.”
“The N15 billion budgeted for the new residence of the Vice President can be used for fuelling police operational cars by tripling their fuel allowances from about N5000 presently to N15,000 per day, which will come to N13.687 billion.
“By prioritizing our planning, and budgeting this way, we will not only be securing the country better but will be making our local industries more productive and profitable, thereby creating the desperately needed Jobs.
“I urge that we urgently review our budget and revise it to prioritize our urgent needs in Health, Education, and pulling people out of poverty which will only be achieved by a planning and budgeting strategy that targets these critical need areas.
“It is time we recognize our difficulty, especially the suffering of the poor masses and prioritize our expenditure. That is what we clamor for in the New Nigeria which we insist is very possible.”