by Ibrahim Faruk
Nigeria’s First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, is a woman on a mission. At least that’s what we think.
The cost of ensuring that the First Lady fulfils this mission, whatever it is, is causing concern among senators and more importantly, is eating holes in the budget of the FCT.
Senators were surprised when considering the 2013 budget of the FCT, to see an item earmarked for the construction of a mission house for the First Lady. It will cost a tidy N4billion. Read it slowly: A mission house. For the president’s wife. An unelected person. And in the FCT’s budget. How is that even possible?
But it is, and it’s there.
The upper legislative chamber also raised concern of certain other budget items including the appropriation of N7.5billion for the management of the city as well as the spending of N150million for the renovation of the Guest House of the Vice President in Asokoro, Abuja. This vice-president’s housing challenges just keep popping up everywhere.
The Senate on Thursday considered for second reading, the budget of the Federal Capital Territory Authority (FCTA) which amounts to a whopping sum of N253.199billion. The budget breakdown shows that N48.034billion is for personnel cost; N49.504billion is for overhead, and a balance of N155.66billion is for capital projects for the service of the FCT.
Every year, Nigerian legislators appropriate ridiculous amounts of money for all sorts of ‘projects’.The ministry of petroleum was appropriated $41m (N6.2b) for the PIB awareness campaign (apparently they are going to make Mars and other alien territories aware of the bill), the President needs $15m (N2.2b)to build a Club House or Banquet Hall, and the principal officers of the national assembly are waiting to move into their $7m (N1b) – per person – houses.
Also, recently, the Federal Government claimed it had over 71 thousand ghosts in its employ costing the nation $186m (N28b) but no one has told us what happened next or why this money has not been accounted for after the revelation.
Enough of the side talk and back to the First Lady. Madam Dame, please what exactly is a mission house?