Lagos - Civil and human rights groups slammed plans by the government to buy gold-plated iPhone 5S smartphones to commemorate the upcoming 53rd independence celebrations as reported in the United Kingdom media.
Media quoted Amjad Ali, Chief Executive Officer of Gold and Co, as saying government had ordered 53 of these handsets as memorabilia for the event scheduled for October 1.
Ali told a newspaper that his firm was “fulfilling an order from the Nigerian government for 53 gold-plated iPhones,” adding theses will be engraved with the coat of arms, a shield and two horses.
The gold-plated limited edition devices can cost an estimated £50 000 each.
Human right lawyer, Emeka Offor told CAJ News that the order placed by government for the precious metal was an indication that the President Jonathan administration had “lost focus.”
"How can a government that claims that it does not have fund to meet basic demands of the people, plan to spend on such frivolous thing?
"The health sector is down, the educational sector has been crippled by lack of fund, yet our government is placing order for gold plated iPhone. This country is really in trouble,” he said.
Offor warned Nigerians are getting to the point where revolution may happen at any time.
"One can imagine how a family that cannot afford two square meals in a day will react to this kind of news. We are suffering in the midst of plenty and government is saying there is no money' yet they are buying golden iPhones. Revolution is certainly on the way!" the lawyer warned.
Coordinator of Nigerian Economic Right Group, Ose Diagboya said such actions showed that Nigeria had “lost touch with reality.”
“This is too bad for our country. We are definitely in trouble," he said
The Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU also reacted angrily to the news saying that the alleged plan to purchase the iPhones showed the government’s insensitivity to the plight of its citizens.
ASUU is currently on industrial action following government failure to fulfil its obligation to fund universities.
Dr Nassir Adesola, ASUU Ibadan Zonal Coordinator, urged the Federal Government to first fulfil its electoral promises to the people before engaging in such an “extravagance.”
“It sums up the insensitivity of the Federal Government. For the administration to think of doing this at a time the Minister of Finance is saying that the Federal Government does not have enough money to run the country is unfortunate.
"It seems that the government has gone to sleep and not in tune with the society, it is governing. The Federal Government should first cater for its citizens roaming the streets, and rehabilitate its collapsed industries before spending so much for phones.
"Any government that engages in such a frivolity and extravagance is not serious and its people should reject it,” he said.
- CAJ News