PUNCH The Chief Executive Officer, Gold and Co., United Kingdom, Amjad Ali, has told a United Kingdom newspaper, The Independent, that the Federal Government has ordered 53 gold-plated iPhone 5S mobile handsets from his firm as part of the memorabilia for the nation’s 53rd Independence anniversary on October 1, 2013.
The gold iphones are said to worth £2.65m (about N682m).
Each of the gold-plated iPhones costs up to £50,000, said The Independent, in its report on Wednesday.
The minimum cost of basic models of iPhone in gold or rose gold is £3,000.
The 53 special phones are to be supplied by Amjad Ali, a Bristol-born owner of Gold and Co. based in Dubai.
Ali, who told The Independent that his firm was “fulfilling an order from the Nigerian government for 53 gold-plated iPhones, added, “We will engrave them with the coat of arms, a shield and two horses. “
However, he neither disclosed when he received the order for the item nor the Federal Government agency or ministry that contracted him.
Gold and Co supplies royal families, governments, and minted customers across Russia, China and the Middle East with special phones.
Some of its customers include the Saudi royal family, which, Ali said, ordered a gold iPhone studded with hundreds of diamonds, including a giant piece that serves as the device’s “home” button.
He explained that before such phones were delivered, “We strip them down and then plate them in copper, nickel and then pure gold.”
The company, according to him, has “limited units per region and each is numbered and placed in a handmade wooden box with a certificate of authenticity and wax seal.”
The Academic Staff Union of Universities on Wednesday said the alleged plan to purchase the iPhones showed the government’s insensitivity to the plight of its citizens.
The union, which spoke through its Ibadan zonal coordinator, Dr. Nassir Adesola, urged the Federal Government to first fulfil its electoral promises to the people before engaging in such an “extravagance.”
He said, “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 FG has not 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.”
However, the Federal on Wednesday denied ever ordering 53 iPhones from the businessman or anybody in commemoration of the nation’s 53 independence.
The Special Assistant (Media and Communication) to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Sam Nwaobasi, told The PUNCH that the report by the foreign newspaper was a lie.
He said, “The Federal Government has not ordered for any 53 iPhones from any businessman anywhere. That is my answer to your question; it is not true, the Federal Government did not order, is not ordering for and has not ordered for 53 iPhones from anybody or anywhere,” Nwaobasi told one of our correspondents.