THE NIGERIAN government has justified the purchase of vehicles valued at N1.4 billion for Niger Republic.
Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning Zainab Ahmed justified the purchase of the vehicles on Wednesday while fielding questions from journalists after the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting.
She said President Muhammadu Buhari approved the purchase of the vehicles, which the neighbouring West African country would use in fighting insecurity.
The minister said helping Niger Republic with such support was not new to Nigeria.
Niger borders Nigeria in the North-West. Dan Issa, one of Niger’s closest towns (in the Maradi Region), is 133 kilometres to Daura, Buhari’s hometown in Katsina State.
In 2020, the Nigerian government approved a rail project construction from Kano to Maradi (in Niger) at $1.9 billion.
The decision enraged many Nigerians who thought funding for the project and others in the country was from loans the government took from China that should be invested in what would directly benefit citizens.
But the Presidency defended its action, claiming that former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration started the project.
Briefing journalists on Wednesday, Ahmed said it was Buhari’s prerogative to approve the purchase, adding that she could not question his decision.
According to her, the Nigerien Government asked for support.
The ICIR reports that Nigeria has faced a fiscal crisis, as the government spends nearly all its revenues on debt servicing.
An acting Accountant-General of the Federal, Anamekwe Nwabuoku, fired recently over corruption allegations, had claimed the government borrowed to pay salaries.
Nigeria has continued to face ballooning insecurity ranging from terrorism to banditry, kidnapping and other heinous crimes, as fears continue to grip citizens in all 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.
The police and other security agencies are revving efforts to dislodge them after they had attacked Kuje correctional facility and freed nearly 900 inmates, including all 64 terrorists kept at the facility.
On Tuesday, The ICIR reported that 7,222 people were killed, and 3,823 others abducted, within the last seven months in the country.
The figure adds to thousands of others who had been killed, kidnapped for ransom and made homeless or orphaned by criminal activities under the Buhari government.
Since its independence in 1960, Nigeria’s foreign policy has been Africa-focussed, as a regional power.
However, in an analysis, The ICIR reported that Niger Republic has become the centrepiece of Nigeria’s foreign policy under the Buhari administration.