Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed

N1.145bn for luxury or security operational cars? Nigerians berate FG over Niger Republic donation

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Dust has refused to settle on the confirmation by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, that the Federal Government purchased N1.145 billion worth of security vehicles for Niger Republic.

Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed

This is as Nigerians on social media have flayed the decision by the President Muhammadu Buhari government to render such a gesture amid the worsening in security situation in the country, as well as the lingering crisis in hw education sector with members of the Academic Staff Unio of Universities still on five-month long industrial action over failure by the government to implement contents of a Memorandum of Action reached with the teachers.

President had approved the release of the fund on February 22, 2022 while the contract to supply the 10 units of Toyota Land Cruiser V8 model cars was awarded to IFO Kaura Motors Nig. Limited.

However, a close look at the vehicle type procured for the West African neighbours begs the questions as to what purpose the items were meant to serve, according to Nigerians reacting to the gesture by President Buhari.

While the Federal Government had explained that the donation was meant to address growing security challenges in Niger Republic, the vehicles in question appear to be luxury items, as respondents on various social media platforms expressed dismay  as to why the Federal Government could not have contracted the services of a popular vehicle manufacturing brand in the country to supply appropriate security automobiles which it manufactures, while also saving scarce foreign exchange for the country.

The Toyota Land Cruiser V8 SUV
The Toyota Land Cruiser V8 SUV
The interior of the Toyota Land Cruiser V8 SUV

In recent days, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) which is the seat of power, has been at the receiving end of recent terrorist attacks in the country, as kidnappings and banditry have also escalated in the region with residents expressing fears over the situation.

In July, members of the Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) attacked the Kuje Medium Security Custodial Centre, freeing hundreds of inmates, including over 60 suspected terrorists.

In the same month, one soldier died in an attack by gunmen suspected to be terrorists on a military checkpoint around Zuma Rock in Niger State, along the Abuja-Kaduna road, near the FCT.

However, the justification advanced by the minister for the Federal Government has failed to pacify Nigerians who have labeled the donation as misplaced priority.

Furthermore, while the Federal Government had claimed that the donation was entirely security and operational vehicles, findings revealed that the purchase was more of luxury cars than the former.

The Toyota Land Cruiser V8 SUV

According to the Minister, the Federal Government approved the purchase of 10 special security vehicles for Niger Republic for a sum total of N1.145 billion to help the West African country tackle insecurity.

It would be recalled that only last Wednesday compelled lawmakers of the Upper Chamber to issue President Muhammadu Buhari with a six-week ultimatum to resolve the disturbing state of insecurity across parts of the country pr face impeachment from office.

Terrorists had last week ran riot on the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) killing scores of soldiers attached to the Brigade of Guards, and abducting dozens of civilians for ransom, all in the Bwari area of the territory, as well as, forcing public and private schools to shut indefinitely. This is addition to previous attacks on public and security infrastructure across the country, particularly in the North West region of the country, in recent times.

Fielding questions by State House Correspondents after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting in Abuja, Wednesday Ms Ahmed disclosed that President Buhari who approved the purchase also has the right to make his own assessment on situations and act accordingly.

According to the minister, Nigeria has a policy of assisting its neighbours to strengthen capacity to deal with insecurity.

“Let me just say that overtime, Nigeria has had to support its neighbors especially the immediate neighbors to enhance their capacity to secure their countries as it relates to us. This is not the first time that Nigeria had assisted Niger Republic, Cameroon or Chad.

“The President makes an assessment as to what is required based on the request of their Presidents. Such requests are approved and interventions are provided.

“It is to enhance their capacity to protect their countries, as it relates to security and also to Nigeria,” she said.

Reacting to the donation, Nigerians questioned the role of the National Assembly in the approval for the vehicles, while others expressed suspicion over the deal.

Senator Shehu Sani reacting via his Twitter handle (@ShehuSani: said: “Nigeria has an obligation to support her neighbours namely Benin, Niger, Chad and Cameroun for regional security and our own National security interest. The Federal Government Purchase and donations of luxury Toyota SUVs to Niger Republic doesn’t fall in line with the above.”

Again, Senator returned to ask: “The question is, how come the purchase of vehicles for the Government of Niger Republic escaped the oversight functions of the National Assembly.”

IB Abdul Tswako (@dulzdg): “It’s their jurisdiction to choose what vehicle to buy… Don’t forget the bandits are in a Forest area, Niger is a Desert so u expect their Forests to be sandy… Now tell me what kind of vehicle u rather they purchase… Hilux abi Landcruiser, which gives dem an advantage?”

Olanipekun Adewale (@Olododo): “Why always everything na Niger republic, is it only the neighbor we have why not Benin, Cameroon, Chad. I now believe Buhari is from Niger Republic.”

Onyeganochie Ifeanyi Henry Phillips (@onyeganochi): “Let me ask again what’s the job of our national assembly as regards situations like this or does the president have the monopoly of power to declare and approve funds without passing through NA.”

Ademsanchi (@Sanchiox): “The constitution is too weak. Same parties should not head different arms of Government!

“Age limits should be inserted into the constitution for anyone who aspires to lead this country.

Health checks must determine who can participate in primary elections.”

Koko (@kokoghostmode): “It didn’t escape Lawan, or gbajabiamila. Its a plan well orchestrated and signed off on by all concerned party except Nigeria. If you doubt it now tell me who owns Kaura Motors Nigeria LTD? Who is Usman Liman? Get the answer and there lies the details you need to know.”

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