One feels ashamed talking about not just an adult, but a leader of this great country of over 170 million people behaving abnormally. This is in the context of an adage that says when a fool speaks he thinks those who are listening to him are fools too.
When sometimes last year, President Goodluck Jonathan presided over one of the Wednesday meetings of the Federal Executive Council (FEC)) that approved the purchase of 750 units of stoves and 18,000 number of what were called wonder bags, even some journalists in the Presidential Villa whispered to themselves about the foolishness in the idea.
Since then, nothing was heard until yesterday, Tuesday, when Vice President Mohammed Namadi Sambo kick-started the distribution of the stoves and wonder bags from the Presidential Aso Villa. Expectedly, there was no single beneficiary of the stove that was present. How would even a villager go to the Villa?
While kick-starting the distribution of the stoves and wonder bags on behalf of President Goodluck Jonathan, Namadi Sambo said: “One of the important global problems today is environmental problem and desertification. In Nigeria it is one of our major environmental problems. And as a result, one of the major causes is this problem of cutting the trees and using the wood as a source of energy for cooking.
“This idea then came up to have alternative sources for cooking for our women. Mr. President has graciously approved this project for the initial take off under the Environment Ministry with the sum of N9.2 billion to procure these cooking utensils and distribute them all over the country to our women.
“And by so doing, contributes to stopping the usage of trees for firewood for cooking. In addition to that, it has added value of saving women from inhaling the smoke, which is responsible for the yearly death of about 90,000 women.
“We believe this is a very important contribution towards arresting desertification in Nigeria.”
Indeed, the Presidency knew that it was just blowing an empty air, because, there are so many things that make the project looks very suspicious and laughable.
One, the cost. For 750 stoves and 18,000 wonder bags to be purchased at a total cost of N9.2 Billion means that put together, each of the items costs over 450 Million. That is even if the whole items, stoves and wonder bags are put at a round figure of 20,000. If you divide N9.2 Billion to 20,000 items, what you get is over N450 Million per item. Where, for God sake, does one get a single stove for cooking at N450 Million??? And for the rural women?
And let us look at the number: if the 750 stoves are to be distributed across the country, what we have for about 772 local governments is a stove per local government. And who is the woman in each of this local government that would be the beneficiary of a stove meant for her local government? How is the lucky woman to be selected?
Thirdly what is the method of distributing the stoves across the country?
It is indeed, painful for one to think that the government of President Jonathan, which has brought so much hardship to the citizenry in the area of procuring petroleum products, including kerosene, is the one that is out to distribute stoves to rural women. It appears the government does not know what should come first: kerosene for the stoves or the stoves.
Of course, with N9.2 Billion, one is almost sure that a factory can be established to manufacture stoves in Nigeria. Such factory would provide thousands of jobs for the youths and unemployed in the country.
Having said these, one wants to think that Jonathan government has not yet known what it did or want to do with the N9.2 Billion. Certainly, by all sensible permutation, the money is not for stoves and wonder bags. It is such a huge joke. [myad]