Leadership (Abuja)

Nigeria: As President's Zoo Gets N37.5 Million


Photo: Jide Odukoya /Flickr
Lagos, Nigeria

The federal government budget just released informed the nation that the sum of N14.5million was set aside for the addition of two animals to the presidential zoo at the Aso Rock Villa. N23m was also budgeted for wildlife at the Villa. This brings the total amount for President Goodluck Jonathan's animals to N37.5m, for just one year.

Expectedly, this is eliciting outrage from some Nigerians, who see it as yet another exhibition of the now routine wasteful tendency of the government in power. And as if that was not bad enough, N1.6billion was voted for the 11th aircraft in the president's fleet.

From Nigerians who have become immune to shocks from the spendthrift propensity of this administration, the reaction is silence. For this group of Nigerians, what is N37.5m compared to the $49bn reported to be unaccounted for by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC)? Or, for that matter, the billions stolen from the pensions fund?

This nature of expenditure in a country where there is general poverty among the people and the standard of living is embarrassingly low exposes the insensitivity of those in power, who were unwittingly given the opportunity to mismanage the nation's resources. University lecturers under the umbrella of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) have just ended their strike over the decay in the system. Polytechnic lecturers and medical doctors are spoiling for a showdown over government's inattention. Yet someone has the heart to let the welfare of animals have a priority position in the budget. Even President Goodluck Jonathan's friends who have had to defend his foibles are beginning to wonder at his senseless display of crass naivety and incompetence.

The nation is about to enter an election year and the president does not give a damn that his political platform, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is collapsing under him. He is not bothered by the pervasive discontent in the land. He closes his nostrils to the stench oozing from the putridity corrupt public office holders are inflicting on the polity. Nigeria could be on the brink of another civil war, as insurgents dismember the country and all the president is interested in is playing Nero, the Roman emperor who fiddled while Rome burnt.

It is our view that in a more organised clime where elected office holders reserve some modicum of conscience, the ruling party and not just the president would be singing its Nunc Dimittis Servum Tuum (now let your servant depart). In our opinion, the level of profligacy in the country has exceeded scandalous proportions. Animals cannot be treated to a ball while the citizens of this nation beg for crumbs. Shakespeare had to warn in one of his works, "Beware the anger of a patient man." Nigerians may be patient, but they are certainly not stupid.

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