The nearly 200 million naira lavish car budget for Vice President Namadi Sambo’s office in the 2012 budget, is making it the second time in two years the VeePee will be spending extravagantly on exquisite cars.
The amount the office wants for new vehicles in 2012 is half what it spent for the same purpose in 2011, leaving questions about the repetitiveness of government expenditures, and how wasteful and extravagant administration officials are.
According to the 2012 budget President Goodluck Jonathan presented recently to the National Assembly, the vice president’s office is proposing N161.27 million for the purchase of assorted utility and operational vehicles; but that is coming after the same office in 2011 spent N323 million on its car fleet with the same specifications and quantity.
It is not clear whether the vice-president’s fleet of cars are due for replacement every year.
While in 2011, N300 million was spent for the “purchase of utility and operational vehicles for the office of the vice president,” the same phrase is repeated in the 2012 budget, this time though, with an average 50 percent reduction of cost amounting to N143.6 million.
Again, while the office has proposed to purchase two Toyota coaster buses in 2012 – same as it did in 2011- it will do so this time with N17 million, while that of 2011 was N23 million. That, curiously is even when, according to the budget, the unit cost remained at the same N11.5 million for both instances.
The disparity, as well as the huge funds allocated to new automobiles, raises concerns about the prudence of an administration that promises frugality in government spending as it scrambles for support for its controversial fuel subsidy removal.
For years, federal budgets have come as a blend of grand expenditure plans, usually characterized by a disproportionately huge recurrent expenditure, poor funding and dismal implementation.
This time, with a deficit overhang of over N1.2 trillion, and deteriorating infrastructures nationwide, the Jonathan administration has pinned its hope for more funds on the controversial removal of fuel subsidy, a plan that has exacerbated public anger against the government.
At a town hall meeting on Thursday in Lagos, where key government officials lobbied Nigerians to support the plan, the Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomole, spoke about how Nigerian budgets have become a huge scam.
“If the people know what is budgeted for the country, and what is implemented each years,” he said, “ there will be deadly riots in the streets.”
Mr. Oshiomole made a rare public criticism of government’s spending plan that annually gives more money to “government officials’ large convoys of cars and entourage; and pays for them to attend international meetings that our nation does not really need.”
The presidency’s budget this year, just like those of ministries and departments of government, are replete with such fiscal proposals with billions of naira earmarked for foreign and domestic trips, recurring refurbishing of office buildings, and widespread purchase of new exotic cars.
The presidency, for instance, is to generally spend more than half a billion naira on purchase of new cars in 2012, for the offices of the president and vice president.
But while, a similar expenditure was not made for the president’s office in 2011, it was done for the VeePee’s office.
For the president and his deputy, two “treated Mercedes Benz saloon 600 E guard” would be bought at a whopping N140 million each, the budget says.
Also, five Mercedes Benz saloon 350 (semi plain) will be bought at N25 million each while 10 assorted jeeps, including Range Rover, Prado and Land Cruiser would also be purchased at N10 million each. In addition, guard vehicles are to cost N25 million.