How it started: A report published by Sahara Reporters on Wednesday, July 3, 2022, revealed that President Muhammadu Buhari approved N1.15bn to buy 10 Toyota Land Cruiser V8 vehicles for the Nigerien government.
It quoted records from the ‘appropriations’ page of the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning’s website which showed that in July 2022, N1,145,000,000 was approved for payment to Kaura Motors Nigeria Limited to supply the SUVs.
The report also revealed that the President had signed off on the disbursement since February 2022.
Nigerians react: When the news of the development filtered into the social media space, many Nigerians were outraged and questioned the decision to fund a foreign entity while the nation is going through a period of economic downturn.
Some went as far as insinuating that the President is using the nation’s resources to fund his alleged relatives in the neighbouring country.
FG justifies action: While fielding questions from State House Correspondents after the Federal Executive Council meeting on Wednesday, August 3, 2022, Finance Minister, Zainab Ahmed, explained that it was not the first time Nigeria is supporting its West African neighbour.
Ahmed said that the donation was done to help Niger enhance their security capacity, adding that other neighbouring countries including Cameroon and Chad have also benefited from similar donations in the past.
She argued that it’s within the President’s responsibility to make such decisions “in the best interests of the country”.
The Minister said, “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.
“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.
“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.”
Nigeria and Niger Republic share multiple border points and foreign criminal elements, including Boko Haram mercenaries, are believed to sneak into the country via one of those borders.