In a significant development, Nigerian lawmakers have given their approval for President Bola Tinubu’s $2.8 billion supplementary budget, despite the inclusion of provisions that have sparked outrage among the country’s citizens. This supplementary budget includes allocations for new bulletproof vehicles for the president and his wife, a presidential yacht, official vehicles for the first lady’s office, and expenditures on the presidential air fleet, among other items. The move has been met with criticism and indignation, particularly from a population grappling with a cost-of-living crisis.
The president’s proposed expenditures, including a $6.47 million presidential yacht and a $1.91 million allocation for official vehicles for the first lady’s office, have raised eyebrows in a nation contending with economic hardships. The inclusion of substantial sums for the renovation of the president’s residential quarters and other expenses has also come under sharp scrutiny.
Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), a prominent rights group, has called on President Tinubu to reconsider the budget allocation, labelling it “outrageous.” They have indicated their readiness to take legal action if these allocations are not amended.
The economic situation in Nigeria has deteriorated due to reforms initiated by President Tinubu, which included the elimination of a costly fuel subsidy that led to a threefold increase in pump prices. Additionally, restrictions on foreign exchange trading were lifted. These measures, though aimed at fiscal sustainability, have caused hardships for the population. Calls for relief from labour unions have mounted as Nigerians grapple with rising costs and economic pressures.
While the reforms have been controversial, President Tinubu has appealed to Nigerians for patience, emphasising the necessity of these measures to safeguard the nation’s economic stability.
In a related development, the House of Representatives has reacted to some of the budgetary allocations, particularly the allocation for a presidential yacht. They have decided to reallocate the funds from the presidential yacht to student loans, thereby increasing the allocation from $1.91 million to $4.55 million.
Additionally, the budget for federal workers’ wages has been approved, in line with the President’s request, with approximately $538 million allocated to this purpose. The House of Representatives cited the importance of this wage award for federal workers and expressed their belief that it would have a positive impact.
To address security concerns, the budgetary allocation for the Ministry of Defence has been increased from $1.18 billion to $1.36 billion.
While the government navigates the budgetary landscape, contentious provisions and their allocation continue to be a point of discussion among lawmakers, reflecting the ongoing challenges and complex decision-making processes in Nigeria’s political and economic landscape.