Peter Obi Faults N15bn Plan For Vice President’s House

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The 2023 presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi has queried the rationale behind the reported plans to spend about N15 billion on a new Abuja residence for Nigeria’s Vice President, Kashim Shettima.

According to him, such development is shocking and shows the leaders of the country are not ready to make necessary sacrifices despite the economic situation in the country.

The Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Nyesom Wike, had confirmed that N15 billion will be spent for the construction of a new residence for the Vice President.

Wike disclosed this last week Wednesday when he appeared before a House of Representatives Committee to defend the FCT N61.5 billion 2023 Supplementary Budget.

He said the construction of a new residence for the vice president was approved in 2010 by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) at the cost of N7 billion but that the project was abandoned.

The minister said the current administration has opted to initiate the project’s construction, and the contractor has revised the cost to N15 billion.

According to Wike, an initial sum of N5 billion has been earmarked in the FCT supplementary budget to get the project underway.

Reacting via a statement on his X account on Monday, 4th December, Obi described the plans to spend such an amount on the Vice President’s residence as disheartening.

The former Anambra State Governor noted that the budget for the housing of the Vice President is about the annual salary of about 3000 professors.

To further express his outrage on the development, Obi added that the Vice President already has a luxurious residence and the proposed amount for his new building is about four times the total amount budgeted as student loan to cater for all students in Nigeria.

While citing other examples of the disparity between the living conditions of Nigerians and the lifestyle of the leaders, the Labour Party candidate called on those in government leadership to make sacrificial leadership and stop demonstrating insensitivity to the plight of the masses in Nigeria.

Obi in a personally signed statement wrote: “Even as I am still studying the 2024 fiscal budget as presented to the National Assembly last week, I cannot wait as I am compelled to ask: what is exactly wrong with us as a country?

“I ask this question because it is hard for me to understand some of the recent happenings in our nation, in these critical times. The recent news about a budget provision of N15 billion for the construction of a new residence for the Vice President is both shocking and disheartening, considering the many important challenges facing our nation. Just recently in the Supplementary Budget, the sum of N2.5 billion was included for the renovation of the Vice President’s residence in Abuja, which means that he already has a residence.

“Again, during the budget presentation, I heard the sum of N3 billion was allocated for the renovation of the Vice President’s residence in Lagos. If we total all these sums, we would have budgeted the sum of N20.5 billion for the housing of the Vice President at this critical time when we are not just the world’s poverty capital, but more people are falling into poverty, with so many Nigerians not knowing where their next meal will come from. Our health facilities have collapsed, and unemployment is skyrocketing.

“I am convinced that 99.9% of Nigerians can only dream of living in the current residence of the Vice President. Several people employed in the universities are not being paid. Just to give an example, the salary of a professor in a Nigerian university is about N400,000,which without removing tax is about N5 million a year. What we have budgeted for the housing of the Vice President who is already luxuriously housed is, therefore, the annual salary of about 3000 professors! This is the finance needed to develop the much-needed human capital.

“The budget of N5 billion for student loans, which is yet to be disbursed is only a tiny percentage of the cost of the Vice President’s new home. We are projecting to use four times the amount for educating ALL Nigerian indigent students to house the Vice President,and we are being told there is nothing wrong with us. I am sure the major teaching hospitals in Nsukka, Lagos, Ibadan, and Zaria did not receive this much capital vote in the budget this year. We have had leaders that were exemplary in the past.

“Most Nigerians may not know that the popular 1004 flats in Lagos, was a land allocated for the building of a Presidential Mansion for the then Head of State, General Murtala Mohammed.

“He sternly turned down the offer and instructed that the land should be used to build blocks of flats for civil servants. That is the kind of sacrificial leadership worth emulating. Our leaders must therefore stop the recklessness and insensitivity to the plight of the masses.

“We need leaders who show compassion and are willing to sacrifice for common progress and development. Such compassionate and frugal leaders are critical in our journey to the New Nigeria.”

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