N400m Cars For Ex-Presidents: A Travesty of Change Mantra

The Center for Global Peace Initiatives (CGPI) is appalled at the move by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to spend the sum of N4oo million on cars for ex-Presidents in the proposed 2017 budget. We see this as a travesty of the change agenda over which Nigerians gave their mandate to the President and All Progressive’s Congress (APC) the ruling party.

Nigeria's former presidents

Nigeria’s former presidents

At a time when Nigerians can barely afford to feed due to litanies of austere measures imposed by the government as inevitable for economic recovery which make life difficult, we are surprised that these ex-leaders are going to be untouched by the same measures as regard what they draw from our resources as entitlements, despite being almost wholly responsible for our present state of stunted growth and development.

We are also perturbed at the attitude of this administration in the manner it is implementing the ‘change’ imperatives, which has led to claims in many quarters that the change agenda was only cosmetic as it was selective. Why should we fund the mobility of these highly privileged Nigerians at this time of dwindling resources.

At this same time of recession, government is imposing heavy tariff on imported second hand vehicles that have served as the ‘lifeline’ for ordinary Nigerians. Are we born to serve these leaders till death, despite their unpleasant and lackluster performances?

We have not been told how much was budgeted for other ‘upkeeps’ like housing, medicals and so on, yet the idea of procuring four cars for an individual every year just because he/she has presided over the affairs of the country, even if for six months, paints an ugly picture of us as a society.

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It is futile and a waste of time to claim that the ‘largesse’ were statutorily provided for and therefore ‘must’ be implemented.  It is a sign of insensitivity and a lack of appreciation for what the ordinary citizens are going through.

It is also a pointer to the need for a review of such exploitative and predatory laws which make mockery of our society as an animal farm where though all animals are supposed to be equal but some are more equal than others

While we give the PMB administration a thumb down on this, we will not stop at knocking at the conscience of the concerned ‘leaders’. We implore them to probe themselves whether they really deserve this largesse!

Sometime ago, we learnt they receive as much as N23 million annually from the Federation Accounts as part of their retirement benefit, despite presiding over profligate regimes in the nation’s history which served as ‘epochs’ in the gradual degeneration of the country to its present state.

We will not forget that one of them was a poor manager who thought the nation’s problem was not how to get money but how to spend it and thereafter embarked on plan less  spending; another one supervised a regime where rice importation among others was used to bankrupt the entire nation and another could not account for $12 billion oil windfall.

One allegedly took out $3 billion from the nation’s till just because he ceded power to an elected civilian government;  still another couldn’t account for $16 billion under his ‘watch’ meant for transforming the power sector and providing electricity to Nigerians and the last of them could not account for over $20 billion in the nation’s foremost oil corporation.

Yet we see nothing wrong in wetting the unwholesome appetite of these leaders with the drippings from the sweat of ordinary Nigerians! Is this what change is all about?

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What we expected with regard to this ‘jamboree’ package was that PMB should have sat these leaders down and makes them forgo this largesse if only as a show of sober reflection for the poor state of the economy and atonement for their past (mis) deeds

We challenge these leaders too to ponder over what would be their legacy when they are no more. Jerry Rawlings remains the only living Ghanaian leader of his era.

The progress and achievement under his supervision in that country far outweighs those of all our leaders put together, with a stable democratic tradition and material development within the limit of that country’s resources.

From the 1970s and forty five years down the line we are still tied to the insatiable appetite of our so called leaders. PMB should know that the burden of change should not rest on the common man alone.

Leaders ought to be seen in the forefront of making landmark sacrifices that would enhance the trust and confidence needed in leader-follower relations.

We implore the President to begin a move for a downward review of such ‘rewards’ for public officers irrespective of the economic state of the nation. Serving one’s nation should not be a means of creating a hole in the nation’s pocket, nor should citizens become cannon fodders for leaders’ self-aggrandisement

By Ayinde Yekinni, Executive Director Center for Global Peace Initiatives (CGPI)

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