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Amid insecurity, Plateau approves N800m for covid-19, N3.5bn for lawmakers refreshment

DESPITE insecurity plaguing Plateau, the state government has appropriated a whooping 3.5 billion naira for the  State Assembly, to set up a refreshment and meals committee.

The government has also budgeted the sum of N800 million for COVID-19 despite the fact that the global pandemic which reared its head in 2020 has abated.

The Plateau State House of Assembly has 24 members representing 17 local government areas. If the N3.5 billion allocated for refreshments and meals is divided per head, it means each lawmaker will get N145.8million per year, their monthly allocation would amount to N12.15 million each while each of them would receive a weekly allocation of N2.8million.

A review of the state’s 2024 appropriation bill by The ICIR shows that the amount budgeted for the refreshments and meals in the approved budget is higher than the one approved in the 2023 budget and represents 1.2 per cent of the total budget.

In the previous budget, N1.05 billion was approved by the assembly for meals and refreshments, representing 0.5 per cent of the total budget.

The ICIR observed that the N295 billion budget, titled: “Budget of Restoration, Infrastructure, Human Capital Development and Promotion of Economic Growth,” consists of N157. 5 billion for recurrent expenditure, which represents 53.33 per cent of the total budget, and N137.8 billion for capital expenditure, representing 46.66 per cent.

The total size of the 2024 budget is N145 billion more than the 2023 approved budget, which was N149. 9 billion.

File Photo : Plateau state governor, Caleb Muftwang
File Photo  Plateau State Governor, Caleb Muftwang

According to the governor, the 2024 budget aimed to restore the state’s past glory in all its ramifications and salvage it from infrastructural decay.

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Rising Insecurity in Plateau

Over the years, Plateau state, situated in the north-central region, had been battling insecurity as a result of the activities of bandits and terrorists.

On December 24, 2023, suspected gunmen reportedly killed over 70 people in an attack on several communities in the Barkin-Ladi and Bokkos local government areas (LGAs).

According to reports, the assailants attacked residences, looted farm produce, and set houses ablaze.

Earlier on January 24, it was reported that at least 15 people, mostly children and women, were killed by assailants in Kwahaslalek village, a community in the Mangu LGA of the state.

The ICIR gathered that Killings continued in the LGA despite a 24-hour curfew declared by the state government.

 

Speaker of the Speaker of the Plateau State House of Assembly, Gabriel Dewan
Speaker of the Plateau State House of Assembly, Gabriel Dewan

Despite all these security challenges bedevilling the state, the house went on to approve over N3.5 billion for refreshment and N800 million for abating COVID-19.

Channel money to insecurity – Budget expert

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Many are questioning the appropriateness of these expenditures given the economic challenges facing the state and the nation.

Speaking on the amount allocated for refreshments and meals in 2024, the acting head of Open Government and Institutional Partnership, BudgIT, Iyanu Bolarinwa, called on the Plateau state government to look at areas of insecurity and channel the money into helping vigilantes.

According to the budget expert, because the police infrastructure in the state and across the country cannot currently guarantee adequate security, the money should have been channelled to boost the activities of local vigilantes.

“The entire framework for security across the country is weak, so we need the actions and responsibilities of our state vigilantes. The state must do well to empower them.




     

     

    “We know that in the south-west right now, we have the Amotekun. In some states in the north, we have heard of different, uniformed local security personnel. I don’t know if we have that in the north central, but for the Plateau, we believe that it will be a welcome idea to have a state apparatus that caters for security,” he said.

    On the amount budgeted for COVID-19, Bolarinwa said it sounds like a misplaced priority because, according to him, “At the current phase that we are, COVID-19 is not a priority. Apart from vaccinating people, I don’t think there are any other activities that really should take the attention of the government budgeting a lot of money to that particular area.”

    He suggested that the money be directed to the state security outfit to fortify them.

    “We should let them have all the equipment they need so they can keep the state secure from the areas of insecurity in the state,” Bolarinwa stated.

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    Bankole Abe
    Reporter at ICIR | [email protected] | Author Page

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    1 COMMENT

    1. Plateau State predated the SW region with the formation of Operation Rainbow 🌈 security outfit. Under the past administration, that outfit was redundant but this one has revived and revitalized same with more manpower, funds, etcetera.
      The attempt to link House of Assembly budget item with security is totally uncalled for and baseless. That is not to talk about the fact that inflation today makes every costs in Nigeria to be on the upside, especially food.
      So my only logical conclusion would be that this piece is the work of underdogs rather than any professional journalists.
      The ICIR we know should not engage in this.
      Best regards.

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