EL-Rufai was wrong, Here’s how much Nigeria spent on Independence Celebrations over 5 years

On the 12th of October 2015, the Finance and Accounts department of Nigeria’s presidency sent Nigeria’s expenses of Independence Day celebrations from 2010 till 2015 to Oluseun Onigbinde. Onigbinde is the team lead and Co-founder of BudgIT, a civic organization, which aims to simplify government’s finance data for easy understanding. Surprisingly the total sum amounted to N2.24 billion ($11.26 million) as opposed to the inflated figures released by the Governor of Kano State Nasir El-Rufai. The document released to BudgIT suggests that El -Rufai’s accusation is perhaps another attempt to mock the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan.

Nasir El Rufai

The sum of N1.7 billion ($8.53 million) was spent for the Golden Jubilee anniversary, representing the highest amount spent during the period under review while the lowest amount spent was N45 million ($225,847)  during the country’s 53rd Independence Anniversary.  It is worthy to note that the 50th, 51st, 52nd, 53rd  and 54th independence celebrations took place under the administration of Former President Goodluck Jonathan while the 55th independence took place during President Muhammadu Buhari’s first year in office.

The document also reveals that in 2013 President Goodluck Jonathan approved the sum of N223.8 million but only N45 million was released to the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.

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This is how the sum of $11.26 million was spent between 2010 and 2015:

Golden Jubilee Celebration  

Nigeria celebrated its Golden Jubilee on 1st October 2010 during President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration and a total of N1.7 billion ($11.26 million) was spent. See the break down of the major expenses below:

  • A 100ft long and 6ft high fruitcake decorated in green and white colors, which gave Nigerians the opportunity to literally have a share of the “national cake”
  • The anniversary parade and the national unity torch and tour
  • The former first lady’s visits to special homes, orphanages, prisons and selected hospitals as well as the distribution of 10,000 bags of rice
  • A presidential banquet for calisthenics performance, cultural, historical and military exhibitions
  • The Ministry of Information and Communications insertion of special reports on both local and international media, jingles, adverts, billboards, documentary and publicity
  • The production of branded souvenirs and gift items for foreign heads of state

Golden Jubilee Cake

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51st Independence Day Celebration

According to the document sent to BudgIT, no fund was released in 2011. Sources close to the government revealed that this was due to the fact that a huge amount of money was spent on the Golden Jubilee Celebration as well as the inauguration of the Presidents and Governors of the 36 States in less than one year.

52nd Independence Day celebration

Unlike other Independence celebrations, the 52nd independence celebrated on 1st October 2012 was without fanfare. The government decided to deviate from the norm but still the sum of N107.6 million ($540,026) was spent on the event. The government had a low-key event in order to cut costs in preparation for the Centenary celebration, which was a big event in 2014. The event took place at the Presidential Villa Aso Rock.

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53rd Independence Day celebration

Similarly to the 52nd Independence, the 53rd independence in 2013 was also low key. The celebration which took place at the Presidential villa without pomp and pageantry cost N45,000,000.

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54th Independence Celebration

The 54th Independence Celebration which cost N 180,000,000 ($903,616) was more than a week-long event due to the fact that it happened the same period with the countries centenary celebration. The centenary celebration marked 100 years of the amalgamation of the Southern and Northern Protectorate in 1914 now known as Nigeria. Here is a breakdown of what happened during the event:

  • The president changed the Guard ceremony at the Presidential Villa
  • An independence anniversary dinner was organised
  • Prior to the Independence Day the president, bestowed national honours on deserving Nigerians and friends of Nigeria at the International Conference Centre as part of activities marking the anniversary at the cost of N 138,138,000 ($693,465)

It is also worthy to note that the centenary celebration started from February 2013 till 2014.


55th independence anniversary

The Federal Government held a low-key celebration to mark the nation’s 55th independence anniversary at the cost of N 70,000,000 ($351,406). The event was held at the forecourt of the Presidential Villa, Abuja. According to the presidency, this event was low-keyed, due to the state of the country’s finances. This is a breakdown of the event:

  • It was witnessed by the inspection of new Guard/Quarter guard
  • There were silent drills
  • Posting of sentries and colour
  • The Commander, Brigade of Guards, Brig.-Gen. Musa Yusuf and the President of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari, inspected weapons and uniforms to ensure conformity with military standards

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Despite the buzz about President Muhammadu Buhari reluctantly releasing the sum of N70 milllion, for the 55th Independence Celebration, it is worthy to note that over the period under review, the 53rd independence was the period that the least amount was spent.  However it is still unclear if part of the money used for the celebrations of the independence was also allocated to states.

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