One would think that in Nigeria renovation equals reforms. If a country where poverty is widespread could be more modest, more miserly, Nigeria is anything but.
In a country of starving citizens, one would expect that renovating properties that are otherwise in good condition, or changing vehicles that are still usable, would be the last thing on the mind of the government.
However, for the government of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, it appears that the mundane takes priority over the masses.
N13.5 billion has been allocated for renovations.
In a country of avaricious politicians, lying bureaucrats and cooked books, how much of this money will be used for their stated purposes?
In a country of starving children, it is immoral that such impossibly outrageous amounts of money are allocated for actions that are a little more than luxurious.
Nigeria has in place wastage as an unofficial policy. Successive administrations at the federal, state, and local government levels have conspired to ensure that Nigeria has washed billions of dollars down the drain.
This is so even when one considers the difficulty of collating and presenting credible date in Nigeria. This is even without paying attention to the monstrous effects of corruption on the national treasury and public life.
The budget hastily and scandalously passed by the National Assembly mirrors perfectly what the governance has become in Nigeria today: an inordinate spending spree.
It is not just the N1.5bn approved for vehicles for the office of the First Lady, a position which is unknown to the constitution, it is the billions appointed for what has become a ritual of annual renovations.
In a country where a scandalous housing crisis continues to lead to a haemorrhage of human dignity, it should be inconceivable that these are the things the government is giving priority.
But it is an indication of just how deeply Nigeria has sunk that a new government is prioritizing wasteful spending above genuine actions that can provide respite for a handful of long-suffering Nigerian families.
When a presidential yatch was mentioned as part of the proposed budget which has now been passed, the presidency, reacting to backlash from Nigerians, hurriedly deflected the blame to the Nigerian Navy.
While there is no doubt that without maintenance, a house, any house, would fall into disrepair after a while, Nigerians loath renovations without reforms.
In a country ridden with corruption, past efforts at renovations have often run into the muck of graft and sleaze.
For a new government, invention should count and come in handy. There should be a frantic effort made to depart from the ways of previous governments, especially when those ways were shown to have led the country down the road of perdition.
Since assuming office on May 29, the president’s aides have been desperate to sever his administration from the administration he succeeded. Having taken note of the disastrous eight-year showing by former President Muhammadu Buhari, they have been eager to delink the two administrations. But they can only do so much.
President Tinubu supported Buhari to the presidency in 2016 and again in 2019 all in the hope of succeeding him someday.
It makes eminent sense that in the face of soaring poverty and surging unemployment, those in government should check their spending.
However, those who know Nigeria know that it is nigh impossible to get many of those who rigged themselves into office to check their power, perks, and perquisites in the interest of Nigerians.
Experience has shown that many of those who bludgeon their way into public offices do so because Nigeria’s embarrassingly loose system enables them to corruptly enrich themselves and their families while in office.
What is clear is that Nigeria cannot continue with thieving and wasteful politicians who are hell-bent on destroying all that the country has worked hard for.
It also remains glaringly true that unless Nigeria curbs waste and cuts loose the swarm of locusts masquerading as public officers, it may soon be reduced to nothing.
Ike Willie-Nwobu wrote via [email protected]