Civil Rights Advocacy Group: HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has kicked against the justification for the allocation of the whooping and scandalous sum of N15 billion by the Federal Executive Council in the 2024 proposed budget to complete the residence of Vice President at a time of hyper-inflation, mass starvation and a declining economy occasioned by poor governance and profligacy.
HURIWA maintains that it is absolutely insensitive and absolutely unacceptable for the Vice President to attempt to push through the insane initiative to invest such a humongous amount of public funds at a time that even by government estimates, there are 133 million multidimensional poor households in the Country.
HURIWA said from the statement issued on behalf of the vice president, it is unambiguously evident, that His Excellency has enjoyed public funds for far too long so much so that he is completely cut off from the realities on the ground including the fact that even in his home state of Borno, hundreds of thousands of the elderly, women and children still stay in many internally displaced persons camps just as many can’t find three quality square meals daily.
HURIWA said the VP is actually used to be fed off the back or tax payers money in the past two decades that he served for eight years as the governor of Borno state, retired into opulence due to the generous allocations of disengagement benefits including mansions erected through the commonwealth of the good people of Borno state just as he also spent years as a Senator and benefitted too from the juicy allowances and unaudited salaries from the nation’s commonwealth which is why N15 billion means nothing to him.
“If we may as His Excellency that as the Vice President, please Sir, have you no roof over your head currently on the bill of taxpayers as the vice president of Nigeria?”
Besides, the Rights group wondered why the current abode of the Vice President where the past Vice Presidents have lived, is no longer suitable for the current occupant so much so that the government literally needs to break the banks so as to fund the completion of another mansion for the Vice President?
“We find it very illogical and warped, the attempt to say that the plan to invest such a colossal amount to complete a building project is a good step because the project was abandoned by successive governments. We think the best thing to do at the moment is for government to consider selling off the uncompleted property and invest the proceeds into social welfare schemes to bail out millions of Nigerians from their perennial poverty-infested living conditions or better still build a specialist hospital with that huge sum on that land and then allocate one of the seized Abuja mansions by the EFCC as the residence of vice president or have all the forfeited housing assets auctioned by the EFCC?”
HURIWA recalled that on 27th December 2022, it was reported that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission listed for auction 144 luxury houses and lands seized from convicted politicians, public servants, business moguls and internet fraudsters as proceeds of their corrupt practices ranging from money laundering and fraud to misappropriation of funds and fraudulent diversion, among others.
According to documents exclusively obtained by the media, 58 of the houses and lands were in Lagos State; 39 in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja; 19 in Rivers State; seven in Kwara State; six in Anambra State; four in Oyo State; three in Edo; two in Kaduna; two in Cross River, and one each in Ebonyi, Gombe, Delta, and Osun States.
HURIWA wondered why one of these Abuja mansions forfeited to the Federal Government is not been considered as befitting enough as the alternate residence of the Vice President.
HURIWA recalled that Mr.Stanley Nkwocha, media aide to Vice-President Kashim Shettima, had said the N15 billion budget for the construction of a new residence for the VP is not a waste of money just as the statement is coming after the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Mr Peter Obi, faulted the proposed N15 billion for the construction of a new residence for Shettima.
HURIWA recalled that the former governor of Anambra State in a statement while urging the federal government to stop wasteful spending, criticized the proposed N15 billion given the current economic crisis in the country.
HURIWA stated that in his reaction through a media statement, Nkwocha said the proposed plan for the construction of the new residence was awarded by Goodluck Jonathan’s administration.
HURIWA recalled that the media aide to the vice president Mr.Nkwocha accused Obi of attempting to tarnish Bola Tinubu’s administration, adding that Obi deliberately ignored the project’s history to score political points just as he highlighted the project’s abandonment for over a decade, revealing the sorry state of the uncompleted building “overtaken by weeds and reptiles.”
HURIWA however said there is nothing altruistic or profitable about committing such an insane and humongous amount of public funds just to set up a residence for the vp who already has a roof over his head because according to the Rights group, “if a past government decided on building a project and couldn’t complete it, is it necessary that such a white elephant project that lacks utilitarian value should be completed against the backdrops of offensive and mounting absolute poverty that is progressively afflicting millions of people aside the 133 million that became absolutely poor in 2018? How can Nigeria spend N15 billion to set up a mansion for the elected VP when hundreds of thousands of newly born babies are been thrown away by their mothers all over Nigeria because these young nursing mothers lack the wherewithal to feed these precious babies?”