As Nigerians struggle to keep their hopes alive even when prevailing circumstances aren’t favourable for the survival of the hopes let alone their ‘renewal’, some political leaders in the country keep dashing and pushing those hopes to the remotest background. When federal lawmakers approved N70 billion to support their own “working conditions” including using the funds to support their vacation trips. Nigerians reacted and thought that was enough for the lawmakers, as leaders, to realise the insensitivity in their action.
As if that was not insensitive enough, the lawmakers soon approved N106 billion for the purchase of luxury jeeps for 469 federal lawmakers (109 senators and 360 Reps. Sadly, this is at the expense of the wellbeing of about 200 million poor Nigerians. Now, the baton in the race for public funds (which most Nigerian leaders rather consider as state resources) would seem to have reached the hands of state governors. The media, within the week ending today, has been awash with stories of how some governors have scandalously become spree squanderers of the resources that could have been used to improve the lots of their people.
According to media reports, the 36 states of the federation have allegedly spent N1.71tn on recurrent expenditures including meals, foreign trips, office stationery, aircraft maintenance, and more in the first nine months of 2023. The worst of it is that they have also borrowed N988 billion by the third quarter of 2023; barely after five months in office. All this simply suggests that political leaders in Nigeria take Nigerians for granted beyond tolerable limits.
While several states have records of profligacy, the extravagance by some state governors on irrelevant things is extraordinary. Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State has been under intense criticism since the media revealed his approval of N7.5 million for the replacement of the perfume in his office and another N2 billion for the purchase of rechargeable fans for the office of his deputy, Obafemi Hamzat. Although Hamzat later refuted the claim and said he only received N2 million, not N2 billion as reported in the media; that still does not absolve them of public accusations against their profligacy. Details of the prodigal spending in Lagos state include N340.95 million on aircraft maintenance, N8.07 billion on plant and generator costs, N1.13 billion on special days/celebrations, N107.79 billion on special duties, servicing of meetings N11.45bn, N2.53 on welfare packages for the public, and N3.69 on enforcement expenses.
In Osun State, Governor Ademola Adeleke spent N6 billion to run his office in three months, in addition to another N209 million that was spent on personal expenditure in the governor’s office. The breakdown further shows that N1.75 billion was spent on welfare packages while N456,401,074.13 was used for refreshments and meals. Another N400 million was used for publicity and advertisements.
While Akwa Ibom state reportedly spent N841.83m on entertainment at meetings, Adamawa has so far spent N1.29 billion on furniture allowance, N1.19 billion on travel and N413.32 million on refreshments and meals. By the end of Q2, 2023, Bayelsa had spent N2.18 billion on training and travels; N1.81 billion on welfare packages; N78.60 million on burial logistics; N1.48 billion on town hall meetings; N48.20 million on praise night/thanksgiving expenses; and N17.70 million on marriage ceremony support.
In Benue, the state government has spent N387.55 million on special day celebrations, and N434.17 million on welfare packages. In Imo, N1.21 billion was spent on refreshments and meals; and N866.81 million on welfare packages. In Jigawa, N1.18 billion was on transport and travelling expenses; and N1.83 billion on materials and supplies including drugs, vaccines, medical supplies, and stationaries. In Kaduna, the total amount so far spent on non-salary matters was N27.87bn. in Kano, it was N17.79 billion; In Katsina it was N40.49 billion; Kebbi was N24.51 billion; Kwara was N41.19 billion; and Kogi was N58.02 billion.
Non-salary expenditures by other states under which sub-head states lavish public funds on flimsy matters include N28.13 billion in Nasarawa; N23.43 billion in Niger; N49.27 billion in Ogun; N59.70 billion in Ondo; N24.52 billion in Oyo; N7.99 billion in Plateau; N51.96 billion in Rivers; N20.89 billion in Sokoto; N24.73 billion in Taraba; N25.07 billion in Yobe; and N29.14 billion in Zamfara.
If anything, these frivolous spending by state governors at a time when the people that gave them the mandate to govern them need every kobo of the funds they are expending on their personal comforts and those of the family members and political cronies only goes to illustrate how governance as degenerated in Nigeria. It is sad and embarrassing enough that the lives of Nigerian citizens in various states of the federation have continued to depreciate further; making more Nigerians poorer than they were before revenues rose higher.
These outrageous expenditures are happening at a period when funds that accrue to states from the Federation Account have tremendously appreciated since the removal of the oil subsidy. Substantial part of these monies could have been deployed to improving national infrastructures in the health, education or power sectors. The short-change of the rights of Nigerians by political leaders, especially state governors, is not only gratuitous but a betrayal of their oath of office, of people’s trust and confidence, as well as of the country’s constitution.
Governors are supposed to be assets to their people, not liabilities or source of worries to their people. It gave Nigerians grave concern when the N500 billion given to governors in the name of palliatives to cushion the effects of fuel subsidy removal did not translate in to any remarkable impact worth acknowledging in the lives of ordinary citizens. May Allah touch the heart of state governors in Nigeria to empathise with those they govern, amin.