Peter Obi Criticizes 2024 Budget, Calls for Review

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Former Anambra State governor and 2023 Labor Party presidential candidate Peter Obi has harshly criticized Nigeria’s 2024 federal budget, calling for a comprehensive review to reallocate funds to higher priority areas.

In a statement released on his verified X handle, Obi said he will “remain persistent” in expressing “deep concern” about the budget until the end of the year “as a matter of patriotic engagement.” He argued that aspects of the budget do not align with the nation’s current circumstances and the needs of its citizens, especially the poor.

A major point of contention for Obi is the N15 billion ($40 million USD) allocated solely for the National Assembly’s members-only hospital. He noted this exceeds five times the budgets for the National Hospital in Abuja as well as the combined capital expenditures for Nigeria’s six leading teaching hospitals.

“Allocating our scarce resources to high-priority areas of need is essential for the well-being of the nation,” Obi stated. “This disparity reflects a low level of care for the rest of society.”

Obi also took issue with N15.3 billion ($41 million USD) budgeted for a new National Assembly library, e-library, and book procurement. He contrasted this with the long-delayed National Library project having less than N1 billion ($2.7 million USD) allocated, as well as the libraries of top universities being underfunded.

Other examples of “frivolous expenditures” criticized by Obi include N10 billion ($27 million USD) for new National Assembly parking and recreation facilities, while the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation receives less funding.

“In an era where science, technology and innovation are crucial for the nation’s future, such allocations demonstrate a lack of foresight and basic awareness of global trends and urgent national priorities,” Obi said.

The former governor called on Nigeria to “reassess its priorities, revisit the budget, eliminate frivolous expenditures and channel our resources properly for the benefit of the people.”

Obi’s harsh rebuke comes amid growing public scrutiny of the 2024 budget and concerns over government spending priorities as Nigeria grapples with high inflation, low economic growth, widespread poverty and insecurity in many regions.

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The statement reads in full:
“I will remain persistent in my expressions of deep concern about the 2024 budget because of its critical importance to the lives of the citizens especially the poor in our midst. I will continue to do so until the end of the year as a matter of patriotic engagement.

“This is because the many negatives of the budget have far-reaching implications for the development of our dear nation and the well-being of our citizens. It is evident that there are items in the budget that do not align with our current circumstances, and it is imperative to call for a review and appropriate virement. Allocating our scarce resources to high-priority areas of need is essential for the well-being of the nation.

“For instance, allocating N15 billion solely for the National Assembly hospital is unacceptable, especially when it exceeds five times the budgetary allocation to The National Hospital or the combined capital vote of our six major teaching hospitals across the nation, namely; University College Hospital, Ibadan; University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Enugu; Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital, Zaria; Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital, Ile-Ife; Jos University Teaching Hospital and University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital. This disparity reflects a low level of care for the rest of society.

“Similarly, justifying a budgetary allocation of N15.3 billion for the National Assembly library project and procurement of books, including the e-Library, in a country without a National Library is very disappointing.

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“The National Library has been under construction for the past 20 years, and its budgetary allocation for 2024 is less than 1B Naira, which makes the National Assembly Library budget 15 times more.

“Again the National Assembly Library budget is more than the combined budget of the top national universities’ libraries that desperately need the Libraries for research, teaching and learning purposes.

“Furthermore, allocating N10 billion for the Senate’s and House of Representatives’ car parks and the National Assembly Recreation Centre, while allocating less to the Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation, is concerning.

“In an era where science, technology and innovation are crucial for the nation’s future, such allocations demonstrate a lack of foresight and basic awareness of global trends and urgent national priorities.

“This level of insensitivity to the present situation and challenges faced by the people should not be tolerated by any development-minded nation. Every scarce resource must be directed towards productive sectors of the economy.

“It is time for our nation to reassess its priorities, revisit the budget, eliminate frivolous expenditures and channel our resources properly for the benefit of the people. No great nation is built on a foundation of waste and frivolity. – PO

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