The Presidency has lashed out at candidate of Labour Party (LP) in the last Presidential Election, Peter Obi, for attempting to whip public sentiments against the Bola Tinubu administration over budgetary provision for the completion of the Vice President’s residence.
The Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) in the 2024 Budget proposal earmarked N15.5billion for the renovation of the Vice President’s official residence, a development that Obi, in a couple of tweets on his verified X handle, described as shocking and disheartening.
However, reacting to Obi’s negative depiction of the budget, the Presidency, in a statement by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Office of the Vice President, Stanley Nkwocha, pointed out that the quest to give a befitting accommodation for the Vice President started since 2007 with similar targets for the residences of the President of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives.
The Presidency, which noted the fact that Obi was also aware of the history trailing efforts at bequeathing a standard accommodation for the Vice President, also noted the resolve of the administration to make completion of long abandoned projects priorities ahead of new ones, adding that the former Anambra State governor’s was deliberately aiming at incensing a targeted section of the population.
It, however, alleged that the Labour Party presidential candidate was merely embarking on armchair criticism of the Tinubu administration after his colossal loss at the presidential poll.
“Giving the reactions and invocations generated by Mr Obi’s comments, however, it is necessary for the sake of history to clarify that the proposed plan for the construction of the Vice President’s official residence, for which budgetary allocation was made in the 2024 budget by the FCT Administration, was awarded by the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
“It was not originated by the present administration. This, Mr Obi, knows but chose to play dumb all in a bid to inflamate a targeted group of Nigerians and, as usual, score cheap political goals, accolades and praises.
“The project, which was reinitiated in 2010 and was funded by the Jonathan administration, was abandoned. Appalled by the sorry state of the uncompleted building that was now overtaken by weeds and reptiles over a decade after construction started about 13 years ago, the current FCT Minister, Nyesom Wike, felt it would be a waste to allow such a project started with public funds to continue to lie fallow; thus, in his wisdom and without the prompting of the Vice President, decided to resuscitate the building.
“We invite more cerebral Nigerians to cross-check properly which should be considered a waste between Obi’s tantrums because the project has attracted government’s attention, given the decision by the current administration to complete vital abandoned projects. What is more wasteful and reckless than abandoning an edifice to rot and depreciate despite the amount that has been sunk into it over the years?
“We recall that while Obi was Governor of Anambra State, he had insisted that contractors should return to site to complete abandoned projects, which he then never considered as a waste. If he did this while deploying ‘entailed wisdom and leadership’ to Ndi Anambra as a governor, the question now is: why should the same action by the Tinubu administration now be termed blue murder?
“Nigerians know that the issue of a befitting residence for the Vice President had been a recurring decimal in the budget of Nigeria since 2007. It did not start today, same for residences of the Senate President and the Speaker.
“The array of abandoned Federal Government projects littered all over the country is a national embarrassment that the current administration has taken a bold step to save the country from. This is why it has made it a priority that all abandoned projects must be completed before new ones are initiated, save for some on exceptional basis, either because of the need for strategic alignment or economic significance,” it said.
Reacting to Obi’s allusion that the proposed budget for the Vice President’s residence was equivalent to a who year’s salaries of university professors, the Presidency further slammed the LP candidate, describing it as an analogy taken too far, highlighting the fact that the Tinubu administration has stood itself out as the only administration that has shown commitment to education by increasing budgetary allocations, asides other steps.
“Comparing the amount budgeted for the residence of the VP and salaries paid to Professors is an analogy taken too far. This is the only government that has repeatedly made it clear that the welfare of lecturers is paramount and the need to increase the budget of the educational sector is a gradual process in the face of the daunting security challenges it met on ground.
“This same government directed that the backlog of salaries owed both teaching and non-teaching staff of universities be paid immediately despite the ‘no work, no pay’ order, while negotiations for their welfare continue in view of a wage package in 2024. The introduction of a student’s loan scheme is also a masterstroke that is targeted at ensuring that nobody, no matter his/her status, will be denied the right to quality education.
“Taking into cognisance the recent inflation rate, which has become a global phenomenon that Nigeria is not immune to, budgetary provisions are estimates aimed at advancing monies to complete projects that have bearings on the lives of the people.
“That the amount budgeted for various sectors are deemed to be on the high side is not unconnected with inflationary trends as being witnessed the world over. And since Mr Obi has qualms with this, he may as well explain to Nigerians why despite being a self acclaimed billionaire he and his likes continue importing all manner of junks, including toothpicks to sell to Nigerians all in a bid for his NEXT business empire to flourish at the detriment of our foreign exchange and economy,” it said.