2024 Budget: Obi Raises Red Flag, Declares N15 Billion for VP’s House Not Priority

2024 Budget: Obi Raises Red Flag, Declares N15 Billion for VP’s House Not Priority

•Says estimate equivalent to salaries of 3,000 professors  

•Laments state of health facilities, high unemployment rate

Chuks Okocha in Abuja

Presidential candidate of the Labour Party in the last general election, Mr. Peter Obi, yesterday, reviewed the 2024 budget recently presented to the senate by President Bola Tinubu, and lampooned the administration for proposing over N15b for the renovation and building of a new office space for the Vice President, Senator Kashim Shettima. 

Obi, who condemned the quantum of waste currently going on in the APC administration, however, said the proposal was not a priority, because the amount budgeted could pay salaries of 3,000 professors of Nigerian universities

The LP standard bearer, who claimed to still studying the N27.5 trillion budget, and could not but wonder at the level of waste in the face of pervasive suffering, further lamented the state of health facilities in the country and the increasing unemployment rate.

Reacting on his X handle, Obi said, “Even as I am still studying the 2024 fiscal budget as presented to the National Assembly last week, I cannot wait as I am compelled to ask what is exactly wrong with us as a country?

“I ask this question because it is hard for me to understand some of the recent happenings in our nation, in these critical times. The recent news about a budget provision of N15 billion for the construction of a new residence for the Vice President is both shocking and disheartening, considering the many important challenges facing our nation.

“Just recently in the supplementary budget, 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% of Nigerians can only dream of living in the current residence of the Vice President,” he said.

According to him, “Several people employed in the universities are not being paid. Just to give an example, 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.

The former Anambra State governor, said, “We are 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,” he stressed

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