Our hypocritical senators showed their anger at N4 billion allocated to the construction of an office for the First Lady in the 2013 budget. We should applaud their concerns about probity. Should we?
Everyone knows the First Ladyfs office is one of the illegalities of our times. Were the Federal Capital Territory officials, who wanted the expenditure unaware that budgets were allocated to bodies laws recognised? Did the Senate express any anger at the FCT officials, who made this illegal entry in its budget? Was it enough to rant about the illegality?
Anyone who knows the Senate would wonder why the sudden display of efforts at saving public funds. What the Senate considered scandalous was the sum, N4 billion, not the act, the fact that some people tried to foist the illegality.
It may, perhaps, not be out of place if the Senate allocates funds to the project, a personal enterprise of the Presidentfs wife. Since its argument was that the FCT proposal was too much, it might allocate N2 billion. It must be spelt out that the issue is the illegality of the allocation, not how much was allocated.
FCTfs infrastructure is decaying. Neighbouring villages do not have basic amenities, yet all that FCT officials are thinking about is illegal appropriation of N4 billion, more money than the Federal Government allocated to each of its brand new universities as take-off fund. A very unproductive FCT also indulges in bogus projects like a N7.5 billion city gate.
The Senate saw no scandal in the proposed city gate. It expressed no anger and would have no qualms passing it. What has Abuja lost in the years that it did not have a city gate of the type it administrators now want? No senator sees the impact N7.5 billion can make on the lives of ordinary Nigerians. How would a city gate improve lives in Abuja? Who would it benefit except its contract-minded promoters? What would be the return on the investment?
Why would the Senate encourage the circle of wastes written all over Abuja? It would most likely borrow the money that would be wasted on the gate. A few years hence, budgets of similar figures would be required to renovate the gate, or to construct a more befitting gate for a city decaying in a manner that was never associated with it.
Suggestions that FCTfs budget should be approved are the type of insult that makes Nigerians wonder if their legislators are in the same Nigeria, where diseases, hunger, insecurity, unemployment are ravaging the people.
Abuja does not need a city gate just as people should stop scandalising the First Lady.