The national assembly failed to listen to the yearnings of Nigerians as it approved the supplementary budget allocation to mundane items such as tracking of Whatsapp and Thuraya with the aim of effectively blocking freedom of expression in the country.
The Federal Government banned Twitter recently and this has led to many Nigerians losing their means of lively hood.
According to The Cable, the Nigerian public kicked against the inclusion of these items in the supplementary budget through protests but the parliament ignored their concerns.
The president Muhhamadu Buhari’s government in the just approved supplementary budget by the senate allocated N4 billion to tracking WHATSAPP and Thuraya, despite the upsurge in Corona virus and other diseases in the country.
When the supplementary budget was presented to the parliament, part of it was indicated as being for recurrent (non-debt) expenditure which would gulp N123 billion, while N895 billion would go into capital expenditure.
In the real sense the supplementary budget was meant to cover the procurement of security equipment, vaccines and other COVID-19 related equipment, a source said.
Going through the breakdown of the supplementary budget, N4.87 billion (4,870,350,000) was allocated to the National Intelligence agency (NIA). The provision is for the procurement of military intelligence equipment — Thuraya Interception Solution for N2.94 billion and WhatsApp Interception Solution (N1.93 billion).
The approval shows how insensitive the law makers are to the concerns of the public who protested the inclusion of those items, one labour activist said.
From the supplementary budget, the ministry of health got N2.8 billion to procure molecular laboratory equipment in national hospitals.
The hospitals include National Orthopedic hospital, Igbobi, National Eye Centre, Kaduna, National Ear Care Centre, Kaduna, National Fistula Centre Abakaliki, National Fistula Hospital, Katsina, National Fistula Hospital, Sokoto, Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Calabar, University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital and Federal Medical Centre Asaba Annex Aniocha.
They were allocated N300 million each for the equipment, while N400 million is earmarked for the Federal Medical Centre, Nguru, for the same purpose.
On other capital supplementary allocation, the federal government N67.44 billion (67,443,671,374) for the procurement and installation of oxygen plants as well as vaccine procurement for the country.
The breakdown showed that N60.3 billion would be used to procure 29.8 million doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccines under the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT) arrangements.
The African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT), a 10-member team drawn from across the continent, was established by the African COVID-19 Vaccine Acquisition Task Team, set up in November 2020 by the African Union. The essence is to ensure that the African continent secures sufficient COVID-19 vaccine doses to achieve herd immunity.
Further breakdown showed that the federal government intends to spend N20.63 billion as delivery cost of the vaccines to every ward and ensure the availability of workers to administer vaccines at primary health centres.
The remaining N6.2 billion was earmarked for the procurement and installation of new oxygen plants nationwide and some repairs of the plants in federal capital (FCT) hospitals.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) will receive N3.5 billion to buy operational vehicles, arms, ammunition and other related items, including bulletproof vests and uniforms.
Of the figure, N1.5 billion will go into arms, ammunition and other related items, while N2 billion is for the purchase of operational vehicles, buses and pick-up vans.
Apart from EFCC and NIA, other security agencies got N779.1 billion.
The ministry of police affairs got N8.5 billion as allocation, police formation and command got N22.59 billion, Defence headquarters N33.67 billion, Nigerian army N207.54 billion, Nigerian navy N157.7 billion, Nigerian air force N239.48 billion, Defence space administration N43.33 billion, and Defence intelligence agency got N16.89 billion.
Others include Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) with N14.82 billion as allocation, office of the national security adviser (HQ) N17 billion, Department of State Services (DSS) N17.5 billion, and National Intelligence Agency with N4.87 billion.
The amounts are for the procurement of military hardware and infrastructures, including buses, arms, ammunition, etc.
The supplementary budget also allocated N1.68 billion to the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) for its Nigerian Comprehensive Aids Programmes in states (NCAPS).
The NCAP programme is to fund the acquisition of antiretroviral drugs for HIV/AIDS treatment in Nigeria.