29 November 2012

Nigeria: The President's N1.3 Billion Meal Ticket


Just recently, there were media reports that the Presidency would spend N1.3billion on food alone in 2013, an amount a permanent secretary in charge claimed was not even enough.

This is typical of our so called leaders and their manner of talking down on the populace while indulging in condemnable profligacy. It was also reported that the average Nigerian survives on less than $1 or N150 per day which is far below the United Nations' poverty level. And a select few is budgeting that princely sum for their refreshment.

Whatever the reason for budgeting this amount for food could only confirm already well known public opinion about the ruling class as a group of uncaring parasites used to feeding fat on the rest of us. One of these parasites and a member of the House of Representatives once confessed that he was invited to a breakfast meeting at the Villa and was confronted with 25 different dishes.

In his hypocritical opinion, that was a waste. But he did not refuse to eat, at least to make a point. That is the style of living of a conniving elite in a country where, for some, one meal whether square or triangular is a luxury. We know that by the looting spree going on in official circles, the permanent secretary concerned might have, already, mapped out plans on how to corner a good percentage of this money into his filthy pocket. But must he also cultivate the effrontery to rub its flakes into the nose of suffering Nigerians?

We mourn this insensitivity of the ruling class as we reflect on the poverty level in the country coupled with how joblessness is ruining the future of the nation's youths. We add this to President Goodluck Jonathan's admittance that even with the monetisation policy, the government still finds money to pamper government officials; National Assembly members still get official cars; and their principal officers acquire their residences built by government at rates that should haunt their consciences if they have any.

As if this was not bad enough, the same government have agreed to make money available to build new ones for them that would end up being sold to another set of officials at ridiculously low prices. This vicious cycle of corruption goes on as Nigerians groan in pain and want. Is it any wonder, then, why Nigerians kill and maim to get into public office? N1.3 billion for food alone is the kind of money people would kill themselves to manage and control.

In our opinion, these excesses can be checked with the appropriate willpower on the part of the president. Regrettably, we do not see the sign of that happening. But must State House feed all those hangers on that stray onto the lawns of the Villa, some of who can ordinarily take care of themselves?

We urge the president to stop, without further delay, this unbridled waste of state resources and channel same to more worthwhile programmes like creation of jobs. We insist that N1.3 billion for food is scandalous and deserves the president calling his kitchen staff to order.

Copyright © 2012 Leadership. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.