The Federal Government has come with a defence as condemnation continued to trail the approval of N1, 145,000,000 for the purchase and supply of 10 Toyota Land Cruiser vehicles to Niger Republic.
The revelation was made by an investigative journalist, David Hundeyin, who tweeted that he obtained a document from the Budget Office in Nigeria which showed that the President made the approval for the purchase of the vehicles to the neighbouring country.
Hundeyin also attached a picture of the document to validate the claim that the President approved the release of the money to a company, Kaura Motors Nigeria Limited, on February 28, 2022.
The document read in part, “Being release of funds in the sum of N1,145,000,000 to the office of the Accountant General of the Federation IFO Kaura Motors Nig. Limited for supply of 10 numbers Toyota Land Cruiser V8 Vehicles to Republic of Nigeria vide Mr. President approval on page 83 dated 28/02/2022.”
Defending the purchase of the vehicles, the Federal Government said that the move was to enable the country to safeguard its territory in the best interest of Nigeria’s security.
Fielding questions from journalists after the Federal Executive Council meeting on Wednesday, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, said it was not the first time Nigeria was supporting her neighbours.
She explained the President had a responsibility to take such decisions in the best interest of the country.
“This is not the first time that Nigeria has supported Niger, Cameroon or Chad, and the President makes an assessment as to what is required, based on the request of their President and such requests are approved and the interventions provided is to enhance their capacity to protect their own territory as it relates to security also to Nigeria,” Ahmed said.
However, Nigerians had been criticising the Federal Government for disbursing funds to purchase the vehicles for another country amid other pressing needs, including the ongoing strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities and the harsh economic realities in the country.
The Country Director, Transparency International, Auwal Rafsanjani, said the gesture showed that the current political leaders were not sensitive to the plights of Nigerians.
“It shows a lack of priority for development in Nigeria. Otherwise, our universities have been closed down for months, how much is ASUU asking for to stop the strike, how much is needed to modernise our health sector and also improve the lives of Nigerians? But the current leaders just want to accumulate tax payers’ money for personal use,” he said.
Also reacting, the chairman, Human and Environmental Development Agenda, Olanrewaju Suraju, said the amount the vehicles were purchased was outrageous.
He said, “With the level of insecurity and the lack of resources in the country, the next thing we could think of is to purchase vehicles for the Niger Republic. There is nothing bad assisting sister countries in their time of need but this is wrongly conceived.
“Also, it is nearly impossible that those vehicles would cost that amount, that deserves to be investigated. The anti-corruption agencies should investigate this.”