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FOCUS: In two years, Buhari budgets N340m to celebrate ‘low key’ independence, democracy days

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AS President Muhammadu Buhari is wrapping up his final year in office, his administration has budgeted a total of N340million in two years on the celebration of Independence and Democracy days, The ICIR can report.

In contrast, his predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan spent N152.6million in two years to celebrate the same anniversary – 2012, N107.6million and N45million in 2013.

The current government in its 2017 and 2018 national budgets earmarked N170million each for the celebration of democracy and Independence Day’s celebration.

President Buhari took over the reign of power on May 29, 2015, and has celebrated four independence and democracy day anniversaries in office− 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.

This year celebration is the last in the life of this administration as it is only 139 days to the general elections.

In 2015 that the President was sworn-in, N70million was reportedly spent on the nation’s 55th independent anniversary celebration−the year budget was prepared by the outgone administration.

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There was no budgetary allocation to celebrate the independence anniversary in 2016− the Federal Government and state governments observed a low-key celebration.

In August 2016, the Federal Government announced that the country’s economy had slipped into recession following the crash of oil prices at the international market.

This explains why the government observed a low-key independence celebration that year.

But N170million was still budgeted for the celebration in 2017 which was still observed in a low-key as government cited paucity of funds, poor economic condition and other challenges as reasons.

The 2018 anniversary kicked-off with displays by the Nigerian Air Force jets and helicopters in Abuja, suggesting that the government was not observing a low-key celebration this year.  The Government has not given reasons why it decided to observe an elaborate celebration in 2018 in which the country is celebrating the 58th anniversary of its nationhood.

A total of 27 air-craft were assembled from various NAF units for the Air Force jet simulations. Two of the jets collided on Friday leading to the death of one of the pilots.

The jets hovered around Abuja between September 14 and 30, 2018. There was also a photo exhibition organized to mark the anniversary.

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Since October 1st, 2010 when the golden jubilee anniversary celebration witnessed bomb blasts at the Eagle Square, Abuja, the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan marked all subsequent anniversaries in Aso Rock.

President Buhari has also followed this tradition by witnessing the special presidential change of guard, cutting of cake and release of pigeons of peace to mark the nation’s independence.

His predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan spent a total of spent N332.6 million on three independence anniversaries (2012-2014).

The breakdown of the spending shows that about N107.6 million was spent in 2012, N45million in 2013 and N180 million in 2014 for the celebration.

There are no records of how much the same government expended on democracy day.

Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-Rufai in November 2015 stirred controversy when he alleged that the government of former President Goodluck Jonathan  wasted N64 billion on the same event in five years

The government then countered El-Rufai’s claim that Jonathan spent N64bn on independence anniversaries

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The governor had given a breakdown of the purported outrageous expenditures on his Facebook page as follows: N13 billion spent in 2011; N15 billion in 2012; N14 billion in 2013, and N22 billion in 2014.

But official government records revealed that Jonathan administration spent N332.6 on three independence anniversary.

A total of N1.7 billion was spent on the country’s Golden Jubilee celebrations in 2010, while no money was released for the celebration in 2011.

 

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