Less than three months to the celebration of the nation’s 50th anniversary Independence in October, the Presidency has sent a budget of N10Billion (Ten Billion Naira) to the Assembly for approval.
The nation has July, August and September to plan for the landmark celebration which would definitely attract many International dignitaries.
It is Naira windfall extravaganza, the Nigerian style, as the questions have arisen as to how the huge amount would be disbursed and expended only less than three months to the event proper.
Already, Nigerians are questioning the reason why the budget and preparation for the event had been left to the last minutes adding that plans for the celebration of such magnitude should have commenced at least six months to one year ago.
“It is a situation that gives way for serious and high level corruption and embezzlement. By the nation’s corruption standard, only a paltry of the budgeted amount are likely to be expended while the biggest share could be lining various private pockets.
A highlight of the N639 billion naira Supplementary Appropriation Bill that President Goodluck Jonathan sent to the National Assembly for approval yesterday out of the budgeted N10Billion Naira is as follows:
A breakdown of the expenditure shows that N950 million is budgeted for anniversary parade including march past, fleet review and aerial display, while another N350 million will be expended on national unity torch and tour.
First Lady Mrs. Patience Jonathan will spend N50 million for a special visit to special homes, orphanages, prisons and selected hospitals, while N20 million will be used to sponsor a special session of the National Children Parliament. Another N20 million will used to organise a party for 1000 children.
The government will further spend N40 million to organise a Presidential banquet, N50 million for calisthenics performance, N310 million for cultural, historical and military exhibitions while another N40 million will go for what the government called “food week.”
Other monies to be gulped by the 50th anniversary birthday bash include N320 million on secretariat equipment, accommodation, logistics and utilities while N30 million is budgeted for the designing and unveiling of the 50th anniversary logo.
Similarly, the Ministry of Information and Communications will spend N1.2 billion for insertion of special reports on Nigeria in both local and international media, another N320 million will be spent on jingles, adverts, billboards, documentary and publicity, while the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will receive N105 million for an undisclosed expenditure.
To mark the 50th independence anniversary, the government has also budgeted N700 million to accommodate and transport special guests both from within and outside the country.
Another N450 million will be used to finance the production of branded souvenirs and gift items for foreign heads of state and to erect a coat of arms on Aso Rock.
Also as part of the bash, a variety gala night and fireworks will gulp N210 million naira; an international friendly football match and local competition will gulp N200 million while event managers and producers will take home N120 million naira.
Designing and publication of a compendium on Nigeria will cost N400 million, while a similar one on the legislature will cost N150 million and a compendium on the judiciary will cost N50 million.
Commissioning of the golden jubilee plaza will cost N10 million naira; while designing, construction and mounting of
Tower of Unity in the 36 states of the Federation will gulp another N540 million.
Debates, essays, conferences, lectures, and a colloquium will gulp yet another N150 million; musical concerts and carnivals in the 6 geo-political zones will cost N60 million; durbar, masquerades and cultural dances will consume N100 million and designing and construction of 10 symbolic monuments of founding fathers of Nigeria will swallow up N80 million naira.
A memory tomb at the Tafawa Balewa Square, Lagos will consume N40 million, security and protocol will cost N500 million naira while N25 million has been budgeted for medicals during the same anniversary.
However, a call has gone to the Presidency to set up a high powered monitoring committee to monitor the disbursement and all projects handled from the spot of the budget approval
By the national Aseembly.
By Fatai Ogunribido,London with NBF News report..