The present administration’s pledge to reduce the cost of government in the face of increasing inflation and economic hardship has come under scrutiny following the recent issue surrounding 1,411 delegates from Nigeria attending the current COP28 climate meeting in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, UAE.

Despite the government’s repeated calls for sacrifice and perseverance in the face of national distress, this comes as a shock.

Meanwhile, regular folks are complaining that their government isn’t doing what it says it will do.

President Bola Tinubu reportedly led Africa with the largest entourage and the third-largest presence among the world’s nations attending the summit, with 1,411 delegates, according to the UN Climate Change list, as reported by the MISMOB.

In light of the fact that millions of Nigerians are suffering economically as a result of government policies, many have criticized the country’s large delegation, which ranks third at COP28.

Concurrent with the administration’s recent assertions of inheriting a “bankruptcy” and a “empty treasury,” this event occurred.

Public anger over rising inflation prompted the assertion; under the current administration, the cost of life and purchasing power continue to fall, plunging more citizens into poverty.

Additionally, in the second quarter of 2023, Nigeria’s total debt stocks reached N87.38 trillion, and this follows a report by the World Bank that revealed the country spent more than 96% of its GDP on debt payment in 2022.

Following his statement that the gasoline subsidy will no longer be provided, many Nigerians had urged Tinubu to take action to reduce the exorbitant expense of maintaining the government.

But the administration has done little to cut the expense of governance, even while Nigerians are suffering.

Nevertheless, in spite of immense difficulty, it has recently spent an astounding N5 billion on a presidential yacht, more than N19 billion on vehicles for the state house, and renovations to the lodges of the president and vice president.

In response to the accusations leveled against Nigeria’s large delegation to the COP28 climate meeting in Dubai, the Presidency made it clear that the Federal Government only financed a small fraction of the 1,411 delegates from Nigeria.

This was revealed in a piece shared with newsmen on Sunday morning by Temitope Ajayi, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and publicity.

Businesspeople, representatives from civil society organizations, and oil industry insiders from Nigeria’s Niger Delta made up the majority of the contingents, he said.

It should be noted that delegates from all walks of life, including public and private sector organizations, media outlets, and civil society groups, participate in COP summits and conferences as equals, and their nationalities are used to track the total number of attendees. This in no way implies that the government is endorsing or funding them.

The government is not endorsing or funding them in any way only because of this. Another thing to keep in mind is that just because someone registered for a conference doesn’t imply they’re actually there.

It is a certain that delegates from Nigeria will outnumber those from any other African country, given that the country is the largest in Africa, has the largest economy, and a greater interest in climate action due to its large extractive sector.

On the other hand, Monday brought additional clarification from the federal government regarding the funding of 422 representatives to the ongoing climate summit.

On Monday, Mohammed Idris, minister of information and national orientation, released a statement in which he clarified that President Bola Tinubu and other officials were in Dubai for “serious business” and not for jamboree.

Idris described the Nigerian delegation to COP-28 as including both government-sponsored and non-government-sponsored entities, including private companies, NGOs, media, academia, and civil society organizations.

There were a total of 167 delegates from all ministries, 32 from the National Council on Climate Change, 34 from the Federal Ministry of Environment, nine from the vice president’s office, 40 from the national assembly, and 73 from federal parastatals/agencies, according to the breakdown.

On the other hand, Mr. Peter Obi, a presidential contender for the Labour Party (LP), took aim at the administration over the development on Sunday through his X handle.

While other Nigerians were struggling to make ends meet owing to the country’s economic crisis, Obi bemoaned the fact that the large group was spending taxpayer money on their trip.

He asserts that the majority of the Nigerian delegates to COP28 were either irrelevant government employees or close associates of powerful politicians who claim to have no knowledge of or involvement with climate change.

As a country with more people suffering from “Multi-Dimensional” poverty, Nigeria has more contingents than China, which has the former governor of Anambra State wondering why.

Since most Nigerians are struggling to make ends meet due to the country’s economic crisis, sending out such a large contingent at taxpayer expense is completely out of the question.

I hope beyond hope that we will be able to compete with China on productivity and the miracle of lifting the most people out of poverty in the shortest amount of time.

We must end the national and governmental practice of waste, as we have repeatedly stressed. There is an immediate need to put more money into production and less into government.

When it comes to government behavior, we need to put less emphasis on pointless pomp and circumstance. Spending must be linked to national priorities and necessities. Imagine a Nigeria that is different. “All we have to do is what’s reasonable and necessary,” Obi decreed.

President Bola Tinubu was criticized by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for sending a “over-bloated delegation of about 1,411 individuals to the Conference of the Parties (COP28) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.” The PDP returned the compliment.

The PDP has released a statement through its National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, stating that the development lends credence to the claim that “the Tinubu-led APC administration is wasteful, frivolous and reckless in the application of the scarce resources of the nation, especially at a time Nigerians are yearning for prudent management of resources to achieve the desired infrastructural regeneration, job creation and revamping of the economy.”.

“Why would a country whose citizens are dying daily from the inability to purchase necessities be willing to fritter its resources and scarce foreign exchange in such a manner?” asked the main opposition party.

This administration is not concerned in the good of the generality of our citizens but for a select few positioned to plunder the nation’s riches, according to PDP, who claim that Tinubu’s decision to bring a large number of people to the event proves it.

“Come clean by making public the names of the official delegation sponsored by the Federal Government to the Conference,” the party asked the president.

Dr. Reuben Abati, a news analyst, criticized the Minister of Information’s statement on the subject during Tuesday’s Arise Television Morning Show.

Abati stated that the minister’s statement was “totally superfluous, surplus to requirement” since it went against the previous declaration made by the presidential spokesperson.

This is the federal government’s second response. The special adviser, Mr. Tope Ajayi, was the first to do this. Following that, the minister of information, Mohammed Idris, gave the second.

Since it appears that the minister and the spokeswoman in the villa are stating contradictory things, I think the minister of information’s reaction is superfluous and useless.

The minister’s remark is contradictory, too. Even though COP28 organizers claim over 97,000 people will be in attendance, he claims more than 70,000 will be there. Does the minister of information really have such a hard time getting accurate information?

‘‘Subsequently, he experiences a breakdown, which differs from the one that the Villa spokeswoman gave. That is why I often stress the importance of coordination: it’s the most common sense thing to do when you have a communication plan and various spokespersons.

My issue is that I often come across as uncoordinated and misleading.

The size of the delegation is the source of the complaints. “It is not 590, it is just 422,” the minister informs them. Alright, how exactly are the numbers 422 and 590 different?

Since some of the individuals involved have not been seen at any major events, as we mentioned yesterday, even a number as high as 422 is noteworthy, especially when compared to claims of 590 that you are manipulating and spinning. The Nigerian pavilion was noticeably absent from their numbers, according to Abati.

Olu Omotayo, president of the Civil Rights Realisation and Advancement Network (CRRAN), spoke out in response to the news, telling MISMOB that it was inappropriate for the government to pay for the travel of so many people to Dubai when so many people in his country couldn’t afford even a daily meal.

In Omotayo’s view, the government at all levels—executive, legislative, and judiciary—should be the ones to make sacrifices.

Even if the government estimates 422 people, he argued, that’s still on the high end. When the typical Nigerian can’t even afford a three-square dinner, why is the government paying for 422 people to travel to Dubai?

Every day, we see a decline in the per capita income. An aristocratic government is currently being run by us. At this moment in the country, it is not appropriate. Not just the general public, but “The masses should sacrifice” is something you keep repeating. Sacrifices should only be instituted by those in positions of authority, such as the executive, legislative, or judiciary.

So, it’s not that the ruling party should keep raking in the dough while the rest of us suffer through tough economic times. So, it appears that we have made a mistake.

We are hoping that the current administration would take a look, do their best to reduce unnecessary spending, look out for the public, and ensure our safety in this nation.

Nduka Odo, a communication scholar and public affairs analyst at Peaceland University in Enugu, also told MISMOB  that sending so many people to COP28 was immoral.

In his view, the nation is facing a far more pressing issue than climate change; he bemoans the fact that the country’s riches has been mismanaged, leading to massive poverty and famine.

Additionally, Odo urged the administration to eliminate unnecessary spending.

“Yes,” he said. Global warming is, without a doubt, a major problem. In the face of the Sahara Desert’s impending collision with the Atlantic, we cannot deny its impact.

When Nigerians are struggling to put food on the table, my question for the government is this: “What does Nigeria have to do with climate change if we had to send over a thousand people to Dubai?”

How many different types of businesses are active here?

Since we were unable to successfully harness our coals, how can we possibly add to the problem of carbon emissions?

There is absolutely no ethical basis for sending that many representatives to COP28. The administration of this country constantly telling its inhabitants to tough it out during the economic crisis.

The fact that names of people who plainly have never been involved with climate activism are included is the most excruciating aspect. Considering the plight of the people, that is completely wasteful. The government should put on a human face if it wants its subjects to have faith or persist.

“The government should begin immediately to reduce and eliminate wasteful spending,” is my recommendation. Thousands upon hundreds of people will need to be flown all over the globe for various events; how will this impact development projects? Not a single thing.

So far, every move has demanded that the leadership turn around. We should give this climate class our whole attention because it is crucial.

Climate change is an important issue, but our country faces a far more pressing matter. The mishandling of the nation’s wealth has led to the current crisis of extreme poverty and famine.

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