Peter Obi, the Labour Party presidential candidate in the last Nigeria general elections, has raised concerns about the features of the proposed 2024 national budget, particularly criticizing the allocation for presidential aides’ trips and office renovations.
In a post he made on X (Twitter) on Friday, Obi who had earlier criticized the 2023 supplementary budget for being extravagant, expressed his reservations about the substantial funds earmarked for certain items in the appropriation bill.
Although full details of the budget are yet to be published, he pointed out, based on available information, that a staggering sum of N15.961 billion has been budgeted for trips for the aides of the president and vice president. Extrapolating this, he estimated that the combined spending for the President and Vice President, along with their aides, would reach about N45 billion for trips alone.
Additionally, the budget allocates N20 billion for the renovation of the President and Vice President’s offices in Lagos and Abuja, including their full digitization.
Obi raised questions about the priorities outlined in the budget, particularly when considering the significant allocation for trips and renovations. He emphasized the need to redirect these funds towards critical areas such as internal security, pointing out that the budget for the Police Trust Fund, which is essential for securing over 200 million people, was passed with an amount of N57 billion.
“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,” he said.
Suggesting alternative uses for the allocated funds, Obi proposed that the N65 billion budgeted for trips and renovations could be redirected to address pressing issues. He urged a focus on internal security, highlighting that over 5,000 police stations and operations across the country lack functional vehicles and sufficient fuel allowances.
He recommended allocating funds to purchase 2,500 4×4 trucks for the police stations, supporting local manufacturers like Innoson.
“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,” he said.
The former Anambra State governor further suggested utilizing the N15 billion budgeted for the new residence of the Vice President to triple the fuel allowances for police operational cars, addressing immediate operational needs. He emphasized on the importance of prioritizing critical areas such as health, education, and poverty alleviation in the budget, redirecting funds to areas that have a direct impact on the well-being of the population.
Obi urged a comprehensive review and revision of the budget to align with the urgent needs of the country, emphasizing the importance of prioritizing expenditures to address the challenges faced by the masses.
“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,” he said.