THE Federal Government has justified the approval of the sum of N1,145,000,000 for the purchase of vehicles for the Niger Republic.
Following the outrage generated by the measure exposed by David Hundeyin on social media, on Wednesday, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed argued that even though Nigerians have the right to question President Muhammadu Buhari, who approved the purchase, the president also has the prerogative to make his own assessment on situations and act in the interest of the country.
The document released by Hundeyin showed that the president approved the release of the fund on February 22 this year.
It revealed that the contract to supply the 10 units of Toyota Land Cruisers were awarded to IFO Kaura Motors Nig. Limited.
Responding to questions on the matter, Mrs Ahmed said Nigeria has a policy of assisting its neighbours to strengthen capacity to deal with insecurity.
Asked why the Federal Government was buying the vehicles for another country despite the economic situation of Nigeria, the Finance Minster said, “Let me just say that over time, Nigeria has had to support its neighbours, especially the immediate neighbours, to enhance their capacity to secure their countries as it relates to us. This is not the first time that Nigeria had assisted Niger Republic, Cameroon or Chad.
“The president makes an assessment as to what is required based on the request of their presidents. Such requests are approved and interventions are provided.
“It is to enhance their capacity to protect their countries, as it relates to security and also to Nigeria.”
When told that Nigerians were complaining about the action, Mrs Ahmed responded: “Nigerians have the right to ask questions, but also the president has the responsibility to make an assessment of what is in the best interest of the country and I cannot question the decision myself.
“I have said that this is not the first time and that Nigeria as a country has provided intervention to our neighbours. It is in the best interest of Nigeria to do so.”
She said her ministry presented a memo to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) on the National Monitoring and Evaluation policy for the country.
She explained: “The policy defines a framework for the institutionalisation of the practice of monitoring and evaluation (M and E) to promote good governance, learning and accountability for results that will contribute to improve socio-economic development of the country and enhance the wellbeing of citizens.
“The policy clarifies how M and E should be conducted in the country, specify the position, institutional and financial arrangements and the modalities for feedback, especially from citizens so that decision-makers can make effective use of evidence by government and stakeholders to inform policy strategies and investment.
“The council approved the memo. This M and E policy was developed in close collaboration with the states, development partners, academia and several experts and associations of monitoring and evaluation in Nigeria.”
Meanwhile, to mark the Independence Day commemorated on August 3, the Republic of Niger on Wednesday honoured six Nigerians – two presidential aides, two businessmen and two state governors with their national honours in recognition of their roles in the promotion of better relations between the two sister states.
A statement issued by Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to the President (Media and Publicity), informed that the day is set aside to mark the nation’s independence from France in 1960 and since 1975 has been recognised as “tree planting day” as trees are planted across the nation to aid the fight against desertification.
In giving the awards, President Mohammed Bazoum said his country cherished Nigeria as one of its closest neighbours and friends. Those honoured from the presidency are the Senior Special Assistant (Household and Domestic Affairs) to the President, Sarki Abba, and the State Chief of Protocol, Ambassador Lawal Kazaure.
Businessmen who received the honours are President of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote and President BUA Group, Abdulsamad Rabi’u. The two Governors are Alhaji Badaru Abubakar of Jigawa State and Mohammed Bello Matawalle of Zamfara State. They were awarded the “Order of Merit of Niger, Great Master of National Awards”.
In various citations read by the country’s leader, President Bazoum, he praised the efforts of “brother Nigerians” who had made great strides in increasing understanding between the two nations and for acting as agents of social and economic development.
The chairman of the Progressive Governors Forum and Governor of Kebbi State, Abubakar Bagudu was one of those who graced the occasion.