Madam Dora Akunyili and her colleagues in government have come to the conclusion that Nigerians are zombies who would take everything that comes out of the mouth of government officials hook line and sinker.
Here is a brief background. The government of President Goodluck Jonathan sent a budget proposal of 10 billion Naira to the Nigerian National Assembly. The money is not for the maintenance of roads or to equip hospitals in the Federal Republic of Nigeria, neither is any significant portion of it to help the underprivileged or the educational sector - it is a budget meant for the celebration of Nigeria ’s 50th Independence anniversary on the 1st of October 2010.
In the world of President Jonathan and the unwise men and women who seat in council chambers of the federal executive, all is so well with Nigeria that we can afford to flush money down the toilet or simply throw it in river Niger and let it flow through the length and breadth of the river bank.
Well, we may all blame the presidency for the outrageous budget but is the presidency not a reflection of the culture of waste, noise, idiocy and extravagance that is part and parcel of our psyche in Nigeria? A larger proportion of the Nigerian middle class would spend money to bury and re-bury a departed relative; they would not hesitate to overindulge in a naming ceremony or 50th birthday celebration.
Do not even let us get started on weddings! We always have an excuse to celebrate and squander money. Our priorities are not well laid out. We reward hard work with disdain and corrupt people with accolades and national honours as we fancy. Why blame the federal government, are we not as guilty as those in Abuja? I have been informed that some members of the civil society are queuing up for a share of the 10 billion naira windfall, attending Dora Akunyuli’s consultative meetings, event managers have relocated to Abuja and very soon importers of the famous This day Dome will be smiling to the bank, Hurray we will be creating new millionaires and thanks giving in Church will sky rocket.
Do we ever reflect? Ask ourselves ‘do I really need that third car? Do I need the 4th mobile phone? Must I take that weekend trip to Dubai just to gather more gold and trinkets? Do I need to spoil my child with another designer outfit though I bought them one less than 4 weeks ago? So many questions we refuse to ask ourselves and it is that thoughtless way of spending that is reflective in those who govern us.
As we spend and waste money, we are “blessed” with millions who starve, hardworking Nigerians who live on under $1 a day, did we not see the BBC programme welcome to Lagos? Cant the presidency listen and take it home that we have nothing to celebrate?
So President Goodluck Jonathan and his fellow travellers are still amazed at our disdain and reaction for wanting to give Mrs. Patience Goodluck Jonathan 50 million naira to visit special homes, orphanages, prisons, and selected hospitals. 20 million naira to organise a party for 1,000 children who will probably be sons and daughters of those in public service, and guess what, Madam Dora Akunyili’s Ministry of Information and Communications gets N1.2 billion naira for the “insertion of special reports on Nigeria in both local and international media” Another N320 million naira will be spent on jingles, adverts, billboards, documentary and publicity.
No wonder Dora came out in her disgrace of a press conference to defend the 10 billion scandalous budget and lay the blame on late President Musa Umaru Yar’Adua. Even if it was Yar’Adua who gave the approval for the outrageous budget, is he holding the hands of Goodluck from reviewing it and coming out with something austere and reflective of the current financial crisis we find ourselves? Did the Goodluck government not just apply for a $915m loan from the World Bank?
Granted the terms of the loan may be good but the reason for the cynicism is that in Nigeria, ‘loans’ tend to disappear with little to show in the form of development of social benefits! It is in Nigeria you see hospitals commissioned without staff or services in place, half finished roads ‘opened’ by the president, and numerous abandoned projects. Why would we be optimistic about ‘new’ loans? Dora should save us all the hue and cry about cabals being responsible for everything going wrong in the current government - Nigerians resisted the cabal, Goodluck is the president now, he must demonstrate transparency and stop every effort to scandalise his government.
Do we have human beings in government at all? Do they think the way we think? Are they aliens from an unknown planet? The Goodluck presidency had better think twice and send the 10 billion-naira budget to a well deserved graveyard. We know politicians are desperate to raise funds for the 2011 election but do we also have to pay for them to further send Nigerians to the land of no return?
As for the members of the civil society who seat in “consultative forums” towards the planning and so called successful hosting of a 50 years jubilee celebration, every kobo you collect to partake in the fraud make you as culpable as those who send the budget to the National Assembly.
The 50 years golden jubilee should be a moment for sober reflection and not an opportunity for the presidency to create jobs for the boys and girls and make new millionaires of friends, concubines, relatives and political associates. The proposal as published below is a shame and out of order. Mr Goodluck Jonathan, Nigerians are running out of patience and you may soon lose all the goodwill. A word can only be good for a listening President.
Itemised 10 billion naira Budget Proposal for 50 years celebration.
1. Anniversary parade including march past, fleet review and aerial display - N950 million.
2. National unity torch tour - N350 million.
Special visit to special homes, orphanages, prisons and hospitals - N50 million
3. Special session of the National Children Parliament - N20 million
4. Party for 1000 children - N20 million
5. Presidential banquet - N40 million
6. Calisthenics performance - N50 million
7. Cultural, historical and military exhibitions N310 million
8. Food week - N40 million
9. Secretariat equipment, accommodation, logistics and utilities - N320 million
10. Designing and unveiling of the 50th anniversary logo - N30 million
11. Special reports on Nigeria in both local and international media - N1.2 billion
12. Jingles, adverts, billboards, documentary and publicity - N320 million
13. Accommodation and Transportation of guests - N700 million
14. Production of branded souvenirs and gift items for foreign heads of state and erection of a coat of arms on Aso Rock - N450 million
15. Variety gala night and fireworks - N210 million
16. International friendly football match and local competition - N200 million
17. Event managers and producers - N120 million naira.
18. Designing and publication of a compendium on Nigeria - N400 million,
19. Compendium on the legislature - N150 million
20. Compendium on the judiciary - N50 million.
21. Commissioning of the golden jubilee plaza - N10 million naira;
22. Designing, construction and mounting of Tower of Unity in the 36 states of the Federation - N540 million.
23. Debates, essays, conferences, lectures, and a colloquium - N150 million;
24. Musical concerts and carnivals in the 6 geo-political zones - N60 million;
25. Durbar, masquerades and cultural dances - N100 million and
26. Designing and construction of 10 monuments of the founding fathers - N80 million.
27. A memory stone at the Tafawa Balewa Square , Lagos will consume - N40 million,
28. Security and protocol - N500 million
29. Medicals - N25 million
30. Miscellaneous - N105 Million.