N37bn for mere renovation of NASS is a misplaced priority

The National Assembly Complex is the legislative building of the legislative body for the Federal Republic of Nigeria. It was built in 1999 at a cost of nearly $35.18 million (N7 billion) and the contract was awarded to ITB Nigeria, on February 18, 1996 through the Department of Public Building, FCDA, Abuja.

Many well-meaning Nigerians received the news of the renovation of this particular complex at the cost of N37 billion with great shock and disbelief because it happens under the administration that promised Nigerians that embezzlement of government resources would no longer be the order of the day.

It is really disgusting to see some misguided elements of our society posting on various platforms of the social media that the previous administration had earmarked N40 billion in 2013 for the renovation of this particular complex. Why the comparison? The present administration promised to bring a change not to sustain the past.

Nigeria is a country with multifaceted problems and challenges that must be addressed by Nigerians but it seems we lack good leadership. This amount is too outrageous to be earmarked for renovation while our teaching hospitals across the country are underfunded and heavily rely on donations from foreign donors, alumni associations, philanthropic Nigerians and organisations.

However, the analysis of the 2017, 2018 and 2019 budgets showed that the federal government allocated N475.3bn to its 21 teaching hospitals in three years. This amount is too small considering the population of our country that is estimated at 200 million while the budget of the National Assembly’s in 2017 was N125 billion, it was N139 billion in 2018 and N158 billion was earmarked in the 2020 budget.

This shows that in three years the total budget of the National Assembly with less than 500 legislative members is N422 billion while the total budget of our 21 teaching hospitals in three years with over 200 million population  is N475.3 billion. Where is our common sense? Shall we continue to blame past administrations or colonial masters for our underdevelopment?

N36.6 billion was earmarked for FERMA in 2020 budget, it is the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency charged with the responsibility of repairing federal roads across the country. Is it not better to further allocate this N37 billion to this agency for efficiency? They would not do that because they fly private jets and our roads snuff out the lives of the less privileged daily.

The total capital expenditure for the Ministry of Education in the 2020 budget is N36 billion and this is coming at a time the federal government is approving N36 billion for mere renovation and this amount is separate from their 2020 total  budget of N128 billion. They will not bother to give our children a very sound and qualitative knowledge because their children are either in England or America.

What is the way forward? Our leaders should always remember that God will ask them how they piloted our affairs and they have taken an oath that they will improve the well-being of Nigerians. Our civil society groups should not relent on their efforts towards ensuring good governance and Nigerians should always think of people they elected as their representatives not some supreme authorities. Thus, instead of being a sycophant, Nigerians should question their leaders and make them accountable, for government is trust on behalf of the people.

Hasheem B Ahmad  hashimbahmad@gmail.com

The post N37bn for mere renovation of NASS is a misplaced priority appeared first on Daily Trust.

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