Nigeria’s president buys a yacht and an SUV with taxpayers’ money

ABUJA, Nigeria — Nigerian President Bola Tinubu’s approval of a supplementary budget that provides millions of dollars for a presidential yacht and sport utility vehicles (SUVs) for his wife and top government officials has once again sparked anger among ordinary Nigerians over what they see as a growing economic crisis.

Mr. Tinubu on Wednesday signed a budget that allocated $38 million for the presidential air force and other improvements. About $6.1 million previously earmarked for the yacht was earmarked by lawmakers for “student loans” with Senate approval.

The state navy said it had received the delivery of the yachts but “has not been paid for”.

Presidential spokesperson Anjuri Ngelale defended the supplementary budget as it serves to “strengthen Nigeria’s security architecture and address Nigeria’s critical infrastructure deficit, among other things.”

A spokesman said around 30% of the money would be spent on security and another 35% on “critical infrastructure”.

Recently, the country’s 460-member National Assembly approved that all lawmakers will each receive a new SUV, costing more than $150,000 each. Lawmakers said the vehicles will help them do their jobs better.

In Nigeria, one of the poorest countries in the world, food prices continue to rise to record levels. There is also growing discontent among ordinary Nigerians to see politicians earning huge salaries while others such as medical professionals often have to go on strike to protest their meager salaries.

“By God’s grace I can eat. It is difficult,” said Nduka Omeje, a trader in Apo resettlement area in the Nigerian capital, Abuja.

Unions have been fighting to convince the government to raise the minimum wage for civil servants by $67 a month. The 2019 wage increase came after workers staged protests.

Darell Goodwin

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