Nigerians have described the N9.25bn approved for the renovation of the National Assembly complex as a misplaced priority and insensitivity by lawmakers.
In the revised 2020 budget approved on Tuesday, the Federal Government reportedly gave the National Assembly N9.25bn for the renovation of its complex despite cutting health, Universal Basic Education budgets by over 50 per cent.
About N27bn was said to have been quoted for the project earlier but Director-General of Budget Office, Ben Akabueze, disputed the figure and insisted that the budgeted amount was N9.25bn.
Speaking with SaharaReporters on Thursday, Convener, Coalition in Defence of Nigerian Democracy, Ariyo Dare Atoye, called on lawmakers to reject the money as representatives of Nigerians.
He said it was obvious that the executive had become insensitive to the plight of Nigerians despite the economic damage done by COVID-19 pandemic.
He said, “We are calling on good men and women of the National Assembly to speak up and put every single penny that has been allocated for that project to be transferred to what has been budgeted for in the health and other critical sectors.
“At the rate at which we are going, it will be difficult for us to be able to manage this country if it is all about serving the interest of the ruling elite.”
Atoye explained that there was nothing terrible about the complex that cannot be done within the provision of the money that the National Assembly had already budgeted for itself.
He therefore called on Nigerians to rise and speak up against the insensitive decision and ensure that the interest of the people becomes the number one priority.
Also, Afro beat musician, Femi Anikulapo-Kuti, took to his Twitter handle to berate the action of government for giving approval to the money despite public criticisms.
He said, “Same they did in 1999 (and forever), they fought for furniture allowances N25m each instead of making healthcare, education electricity, roads their priority, what they were voted to do.”
In his own reaction, Banky W, a musician, wrote on his Twitter, “At a time when most Nigerians were seriously struggling with everything, our National Assembly is going to spend N27bn on renovations.”
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project has appealed to the United Nations to prevail on the Nigerian Government to reverse the unlawful, disproportionate and discriminatory budget cuts to education and healthcare, and to stop the authorities from spending N27bn to renovate the National Assembly complex.