N75bn SUVs For Lawmakers: Missed Opportunities To Improve Education, Healthcare

Last week, the House of Representatives rejected a motion that sought to make all external secondary school examinations for the 2023/2024 session free in order to support families in light of the effect of subsidy removal on the economy.

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The lawmakers’ argument is that Nigeria cannot afford free WAEC, NECO and UTME for Nigerians who are grappling with economic challenges due to the removal of fuel subsidy. But while the lawmakers deemed free examination for Nigerians too expensive for the nation, they are on the verge of spending a whopping N75 billion to procure luxurious vehicles for their personal use.

A breakdown shows that each member of the two chambers of the National Assembly will get a Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) that costs N160 million per lawmaker. Aside from the accommodation allowances, newspaper allowances, and jumbo salaries, Nigerians will buy 469 SUVs for all the members of the parliament.

While Nigerians are being asked to make sacrifices, the lawmakers are ordering expensive fuel-guzzling cars, that will be fueled from the treasury.

In this report, KOKO TV NG reviews the things N75 billion means for Nigerians.

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According to official data, about 1.6 million students sat for the 2023 UTME in Nigeria at the cost of N5,500 per candidate. This means the cost of the UTME for the entire students is N8.8 billion.

Similarly, 1.6 million candidates also sat for the West Africa Examination Council (WAEC) in 2023. Each candidate paid N18,000 as fees, excluding other costs. The total amount for the examination is N28.8 billion. For NECO, 1.205 million registered for the 2023 examination, at a unite cost of N17,800 per candidate, the total cost of NECO was N21.3 billion.

If the lawmakers had decided not to buy the luxurious vehicles, they would have paid for all the students in Nigeria, and still have N16.8 billion left for them to buy lesser vehicles.

Four primary healthcare centers in every LGs in Nigeria

According to multiple sources, it cost between N18 million to N22 million to build a primary healthcare centre in Nigeria.

With the N75 billion, the members of the National Assembly could have built four primary healthcare centres in each local government at the rate of N22 million per one.

If the money for the vehicles is spent on healthcare, Nigeria would have 3,096 PHCs to help their constituents.

Funding 10 federal medical centres

The 75 billion the lawmakers plan to spend on their official cars could fund 10 federal medical centres in Nigeria for a whole year.

According to the 2023 budget, the total budget for FMCs Taraba, Kebbi, Azare, Kogi, Yola, Gusau, Bida, Nguru Yobe, Markudi, and Owo is N6.9 billion.

This means that the money the lawmakers plan to spend on their vehicles is more than what it takes to run these hospitals for the entire year, including the payment of salaries, drugs and capital projects.

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400 laptops in every local governments

If the lawmakers decide not to spend the money on cars, and say they decide to train students in their respective local governments on IT skills, the N75 billion is enough to buy 279, 810 laptops, and if shared among all the local governments, each local government will get 400 laptops.

Findings reveal that HP 225 AMD Athlon Gold 8GM RAM, 2.4GHz cost an average price of N269,500. With this type of laptop, young people in their constituencies could learn programming and other IT skills

Addressing 13.5 million out-of-school children

Members of the National Assembly could have addressed the out-of-school crisis by supporting states to access the Universal Basic Education Fund.

It would be recalled that many states have not been able to access the UBEC fund because of lack of counterpact funding, this N75 billion could be used as special intervention by the local government to build or renovate more schools.

This policy could go a long way to address the problem of out-of-school children in Nigeria.

It appears the lawmakers have made up their minds on this issue, and they will proceed to but the cars instead of addressing the problems listed.

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