Open Alliance, a coalition of civil society organizations working to improve openness and accountability in government, wishes to express deep concern and sadness over the recent passage of the N2.17 trillion supplementary budget by the National Assembly. The supplementary budget, which is usually intended to address urgent national issues, deviated from this role, and the budget line has raised substantial questions about the financial management and priorities of this current administration.
One of the most alarming issues facing the nation is the mounting debt crisis. Nigeria is currently grappling with a significant debt burden. From our last 2023 available data, Nigeria’s external debt was already alarming at N33.25 trillion, with the cost of servicing this debt at N617.35 billion—a major drain on the country’s resources. We urge the government to provide updated numbers on the current debt servicing situation and to take immediate steps to address this issue.
Many Nigerians are still grappling with the harsh austerity measures this government has imposed on the people, with the cost of living skyrocketing and necessities becoming unaffordable. Common feeding has transformed into a luxury for the average Nigerian, and this dire situation is particularly pronounced among the vulnerable population of over 100 million Nigerians living in multidimensional poverty. The government must prioritize policies that alleviate the suffering of these citizens and create an environment where their basic needs can be met.
The current food inflation, at 30%, is another critical concern. The rising prices of essential food items have made it increasingly difficult for ordinary Nigerians to put food on the table. The government must take decisive actions to address this issue by investing in agriculture, supporting local farmers, making the farms safe again, and tackling inflationary pressures.
What is particularly disheartening is the apparent disregard for the financial plight of the average Nigerian. The supplementary budget allocating N1.5 billion for the office of the First Lady is not only a misallocation of resources but also unconstitutional. No law recognizes the office of the First Lady in Nigeria, and such expenditures only highlight the tone-deaf nature of this administration. Open Alliance condemns this allocation and calls for adherence to the laws and principles that govern Nigeria’s financial management.
Lastly, the supplementary budget gave not a single kobo to the health of Nigerians, this is highly disappointing, considering that it’s only a productive population that can contribute to the nation’s development. Historically, Nigeria has failed to meet the 15% budget allocated to health, “the Abuja declaration.” At this point, Nigerians have once again been directly told to cater for themselves as the Federal Government does see any urgency in addressing the current decay in the health sector in Nigeria.
Open Alliance is highly disappointed with the rate of reckless spending by this administration, which appears to lack a central focus on the welfare of the Nigerian people. We call upon the government to re-evaluate its priorities, ensuring that the needs and well-being of the citizens are at the center of its policies and financial decisions.
In conclusion, Open Alliance remains committed to advocating for accountability and responsible governance in Nigeria. We call upon the government to urgently address the issues raised in this statement and take immediate steps to alleviate the suffering of the Nigerian people. The welfare of the nation’s citizens must be the foremost concern in all government actions and decisions.