Activists Protest N4bn Budget For First Ladies Office

Scores of women led by the President, Women Arise for Change Initiative, Dr. Joe Oke-Odumakin yesterday, took to the streets of Lagos to protest the proposed N4bn allocated for the construction of a building for African First Ladies in the 2013 Federal Capital Territory budget.

It would be recalled that the fund for the mission house, which was expected to serve as centre to host other African First Ladies, was listed in the 2013 budget of FCT, Abuja.

The protesters, who were over 100 converged at the premises of the Lagos State Television, LTV, Agidingbi, Ikeja, and later marched to Lagos House, Alausa.

Prominent activists among the pack were  Abosede Ransome Kuti; lawyer, Festus Keyamo; National Women Coordinator, Nigeria Labour Congress, Vera Okafor; revolutionary artiste, Yeni Kuti; Betty Abba of the Environmental Right Group.

The protesters displayed various placards which read: “N4 billion will create jobs, so we say no to mission house; N4 billion budget for Mission House, we say no to fiscal rascality” among others.

Okei-Odumakin said the women were appalled by the culture of waste that had become the hallmark of governance in Nigeria.

She said the allocation, which was provided for in the budget, was an insult to Nigerians and should be resisted.

Okei-Odumakin said, “The latest of such fiscal brigandage is the N4bn allocated for the building of an office for the African First Ladies which is spearheaded by Patience Jonathan.

“Even in an era where fiscal irresponsibility is the norm, and not the exception, the allocation is an egregious insult to Nigerians.”

She said N4bn could help millions of school age children to receive better education, equip rural clinics, provide drugs and do society a host of other good.

She therefore demanded that President Goodluck Jonathan direct the FCT Minister, Bala Muhammed, to withdraw the budget allocation and sack him for the assault on public morality.

Keyamo said it was sad that Abuja had become the capital of corruption, stressing that news from the FCT on a daily basis is embarrassing.

He said the allocation was both illegal and immoral, saying there is no constitutional justification for the action.

Ransome-Kuti urged Fashola to tell the Presidency that women were angry that in the face of the myriad of problems in the country, a whopping N4bn was being allocated to an illegal office.

In his response, Fashola, assured the protesting women that their letter would be delivered today (Thursday).

Fashola said, “I only want to say that our democratic experiment is comparatively young. Therefore, I believe errors will be normal. Protest of this nature will certainly enrich the process.

“I think opportunities still exist to make amend because I am aware that there was no ascent to the budget yet.”

The Herald NG

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