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As ASUU strike persists, FG justifies lavishing N1.15b on vehicles purchase for Niger Republic

Anthony Iwuoma

Despite the protracted strike action of the university lecturers under the aegis of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) over pay, the Federal Government has justified  expending a whopping N1.15bn on the purchase of 10 SUVs for Niger Republic.

However, it hinged the gesture on the need to support that country in the interest of Nigeria’s security.

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, who fielded questions from State House Correspondents after the Federal Executive Council meeting chaired by President Buhari, on Wednesday, explained it was not the first time Nigeria was supporting her neighbours, adding that it was the president’s responsibility  to so decide “in the best interests of the country”.

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Sahara Reporters had reported that the president in June approved the N1.15 billion purchaes.

The revelation angered Nigerians who questioned the rationale behind such a largesse in this time of deplorable economy and the ongoing strike by ASUU.

Nevertheless, the finance minister said Buhari’s assistance to safeguard Niger Republic would also help in securing Nigeria’s own territory.

“Let me just say that, over time, Nigeria has had to support its neighbours, especially immediate neighbours, to enhance their capacity to secure their countries as it relates to us,” she said.

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“This is not the first time that Nigeria has supported Niger, Cameroon or Chad, and the President makes an assessment as to what is required, based on the request of their president and such requests are approved and the interventions provided is to enhance their capacity to protect their own territory as it relates to security also to Nigeria.”

Ahmed did not see anything wrong in Nigerians questioning the decision though but insisted that the president had the right to decide what he considers best for the country.

“Nigerians have a right to ask questions, but also the president has a responsibility to make an assessment of what is in the best interests of the country. And I cannot question that decision,” the minister said.