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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Criticism mounts over billions allocated by Kano, Niger others for Ramadan feeding

Civil Society Groups and Economist Slam Use of Public Funds for Religious Initiatives Instead of Social Welfare

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Civil society organizations and an economist have lambasted the decision by Kano and Sokoto state governments to allocate billions of naira for Ramadan feeding programs, arguing that such funds should be directed towards addressing education and social welfare needs.

The condemnation follows reports of Kano State earmarking N5 billion and Sokoto State allocating N6.7 billion for Ramadan feeding initiatives, with Niger State also budgeting N976 million for similar programs.

Debo Adeniran, Executive Director of the Center for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, criticized the move as “simply wasteful,” emphasizing that public funds should prioritize infrastructure, education, and healthcare services over religious matters.

“Their priority should be the collective interest of the citizenry, not self-interest,” Adeniran asserted. “It is profligacy to allocate such vast sums for Ramadan feeding when crucial sectors like education and healthcare require urgent attention.”

Echoing these sentiments, Enefaa Georgewill, Chairman of the Rivers State Civil Society Organizations, underscored the secular nature of Nigeria, stating, “Spending billions on religious activities in a secular state is illegal and misguided.”

Economist Olaitan Ridwan raised concerns about the transparency and accountability of the allocated funds, emphasizing the need for effective distribution to reach the intended beneficiaries.

While the Kano State Government defended its allocation, citing the establishment of feeding centers across local government areas, critics remain skeptical about the equitable distribution of resources.

Similarly, the Niger State Government disclosed plans to distribute assorted grains to various entities, including traditional institutions and political parties, raising questions about the program’s inclusivity and effectiveness.

In Sokoto State, Governor Ahmed Aliyu justified the budget allocation, stating that it also covers expenses for state workers and pensioners, in addition to feeding programs for orphans and people with disabilities.

As scrutiny mounts over the allocation of public funds for religious initiatives, calls for greater transparency and accountability in government spending grow louder, with civil society groups and economists urging authorities to prioritize the welfare of all citizens, irrespective of religious affiliation.

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