Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, has lamented the paltry amount earmarked for the feeding of the prison the country.
He said that the amount is low compared to America where the least amount for the daily upkeep of a prisoner is N31,000 as compared to N730.00 for prison inmates in the country.
Aregbesola, who disclosed this while answering questions from members of the National Assembly Joint Committee on Interior during budget Defence session of the Ministry, said the cost of feeding a prisoner in America daily is up to N60,000.
He said that the nations’ economy cannot be compared to that of America, which is why the daily upkeep for a prisoner in the US is not only higher than what is budgeted for prisoners in Nigeria but also higher than the N30,000 minimum wage recently signed into law for workers.
Aregbesola said: “Comparing Nigeria with countries like America, Turkey and even Egypt as illustrated by some of the federal lawmakers will completely demoralize the morale of any concerned citizen but what we are sure of in the Ministry is that we shall with the limited resources available make the best for the country.
“At the Federal Executive Council level, when the budget being defended now was to be planned by way of input from various Ministers, I kept quiet after listening to the Minister of Finance on the challenges and constraints facing the nation’s economy.
“One of such challenges is the paucity of fund which has made the Ministry of Interior unable to pay for 40 fire trucks manufactured for the country by Turkey since 18 months ago.”
He, however, told the committee members that Prisons will not be allowed to degenerate to concentration camps in line with the new mantra of correctional service given to it.
“We are engaging the governors because there is no other way to do it than to work with them. We are working with the Ministry of Justice which already has a committee in place for the decongestion of prisons.
“We are also planning a meeting with the Nigerian Governors’ Forum in order to sensitize them on what they should do to make sure that aspect of criminal justice administration is not neglected.
“There will be serious problems if all of us fail to come together to solve it. No sane person will want to administer or be in charge of a concentration camp in this time and age because of the problems faced by those who last operated a concentration camp.
“No one will in any way be connected with the concentration camp. We are all concerned.
“I have said it in general terms but I will be more specific now. We will think out of the box.
“Nothing can be done by limiting ourselves to what is available but much can be done by being creative, innovative and very prudent in the management of scarce resources,” Aregbesola said.