African press review 21 December 2015

Nigerian lawmakers splash out 22 million euros on luxury cars, as country reels under austerity; Pay day for more Kenyan big fish caught in large commercial fraud; And a shocking revelation in South Africa: Children rule women unfit to be Santa Claus.


We start in Nigeria where Premium Times is fuming about plans by the Nigerian Senate to buy various brands of exotic vehicles for use by its President, Bukola Saraki, and the 108 other senators. The paper says it is able to report authoritatively that an estimated N4.7billion (nearly 22 million euros) of tax payers money has been budgeted for the extravagant project.

It says the cars to be acquired include a Mercedes Benz S550 2016 model worth 95,000 dollars for the Senate President, four Toyota Prado SUVs, worth 73,000 dollars each and four Toyota Hilux SS, costing 50,000 dollars for the Senate President's convoy.

Premium Times say its stomach turns to see all the money being splashed out for prestige projects, at a time remote communities are using paraffin lamps due to lack of electricity with millions more facing severe economic hardship, including non-payment of salaries.

The paper also regrets that the same Nigerian lawmakers who are charged with allocating the country's resources would resort to such free spending, knowing the federal government is too broke to pay importers of petrol several billions in subsidy claims, which has left millions more enduring long and humiliating fuel queues across the country.

In Kenya, Daily Nation digs into what it calls the biggest commercial fraud ever carried out in the 83-year-history of the Kenya Planters Co-operative Union (KPCU).

The paper reports that a 9 million dollar credit line opened for farmers at Kenya Commercial Bank for years became the window for wayward directors and managers to lend cash to politically-correct individuals   even those who had not delivered coffee.

According to the Nation, fictitious codes were created for the purpose of securing funds from the bank while some advances were approved without going through the board. As a result, KPCU’s non-performing loans spiralled out of control.

And South Africa's Star newspaper takes interest in a question an advertising agency posed this week to children aged between four and ten-year-olds in its annual festive Christmas video. "What if Santa was a woman - could she do the job" The paper says the answer was a resounding “No”.

One boy claimed a lady Santa wouldn’t be strong enough to carry the sack (“She would need to go to the gym first”); another said she would “get lost in the sky”.

"Mrs Claus wouldn’t be able to wrap the presents because her baby would get in the way", said yet another girl. More worryingly, one claimed a woman would fail because she would “just get a headache”.

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