Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Inside Nigeria: President Jonathan’s Wasteful Spending on Presidential Jets

SOME of the details contained in the 2014 budget proposals of the Federal Government currently awaiting the approval of the National Assembly are as outrageous as they are disquieting. Those details have, as usual, exposed the government’s propensity for frivolities and plush living. Global trends however suggest that public officials should scale down the cost of governance and roll back casual luxuries in public office. But President Goodluck Jonathan is again making a public statement of opulence in a country where the majority of the people live below the United Nations poverty threshold.

 It is obvious that what the government has succeeded in doing with the budget, as usual, is to use it to promote the ostentatious and wasteful lifestyle of government officials, while further impoverishing the Nigerian citizenry. When the government is not budgeting N2.2 billion for a “befitting banqueting hall in Aso Rock Villa,” as was the case last year, it is proposing N34.5 million for the feeding of lions in the Aso Rock Zoo. One particularly disgusting item in the 2014 budget is the provision of N1.6 billion as deposit for the purchase of a new aircraft for the presidential fleet that already boasts a record 10 planes and is ranked among the most luxurious worldwide.

The profligate presidential fleet is complemented with an extravagant motorcade and glamorous lifestyle. Only two domestic airlines have that many aircraft. Nigerians need to know how much money goes into the maintenance of this large fleet of non-commercial aircraft. In 2011, N18 billion was reportedly budgeted to maintain the presidential aircraft.

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