GOLDEN JUBILEE: COMMITTEE EXPLAINS ANNIVERSARY BUDGET
Perhaps not much noise would have been made over the proposed budget for Nigeria's Golden Jubilee Anniversary celebration if proper explanations had been made to Nigerians. This is the submission of a dependable source, who is a top member of the planning committee.
The source revealed that the impression created before the public was that the budget was for just one day. This, he stated, was far from the truth. According to the source, the programme was designed to last several days.
'The wrong message was sent to the Nigerian public. Many people were actually alarmed, perhaps, because they think that it was just a single day's budget. But that is not the case, it is not true. This is a budget for several days.'
Importantly, two projects stood out as very significant in the whole programme. The source explained that 'after 50 years, after a civil war, after many military interventions and many communal clashes, and of course, after bouts of economic depression and period of structural adjustment regime, that Nigeria is still intact calls for celebration and a monument ought to be erected to that effect and that is where the Millennium Building comes in. Do you know that project alone will take N2.8 billion?
'Nobody explained that to Nigerians. Aviation will take N2.2 billion, that is the tarmac and the runway.
'These two projects alone have already taken N5 billion and these are capital projects. By the time you take these two projects away from the whole budget, you will discover that nothing really is left. And that is why I keep saying that Nigerians have a right to react the way they did. But by the time they know that actually the bulk of the money is to be used on capital projects for the country and posterity, of course nobody will grumble,' the source stated.
The source counselled those who were still agitated to consider other countries, which at the attainment of their 50th independence rolled out the drums to mark the event because of its historical significance. He referred to countries like Ghana, Togo, Spain, Senegal, China, Cameroun, Japan and even Somalia. He particularly singled out Senegal and Ghana which are sub-Saharan countries like Nigeria which celebrated their 50th anniversaries with so much pomp and ceremony.
According to the commemoration programme, the anniversary would involve unveiling of the logo for the anniversary; two anniversary lectures, special sitting of the National Children Parliament, cultural activities, a gala night, public debate and a colloqium in Nigeria's leadership in the world, presidential banquet, cultural and historical exhibition, launching of the re-designed N50 note, acrobatic display cum fireworks, variety night and a cultural entertainment at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
Already, President Goodluck Jonathan has reduced the budget for the anniversary.