President Bola Ahmed Tinubu did not ask for a presidential yacht, Tope Ajayi, his spokesman, has said.
There has been outrage since details of the N2.1 trillion supplementary budget Tinubu submitted to the National Assembly were published.
According to the budget, N5.09 billion was allocated for the yacht, N2.9 billion for sport utility vehicles for the Presidential Villa, and another N2.9 billion for the replacement of operational vehicles for the presidency.
The yacht was listed under the Nigerian Navy’s proposed capital expenditure of N42.3 billion.
Reacting to the criticisms that have trailed the issue, Ajayi said he doubted if his principal needed one to perform the functions of his office.
“The trending issues on social media since yesterday are two items in the 2023 supplementary budget. One is the provision for a presidential yacht in the supplementary budget by the Navy and the other is over N6 billion for vehicles to the State House.
“It is important to state clearly that President Bola Tinubu didn’t ask for a presidential yatch and I doubt he needs one to perform the functions of his office. From what I know, the request for a yacht, however it is named or couched in the budget is from the Navy and they must have operational reasons for why it is required.
“The budget office should be in a position to also explain to the public why such expenditure should be accommodated now, considering the economic situation of the country. I must readily admit that the one reason our budgeting system has been a subject of public attack is the very simplistic way some of the line items are described by civil servants, who prepare the budget. Examples abound. Sometimes in 2016, an Enterprise Resource Planning ( ERP) project of the Ministry of Solid Minerals worth over N300m then was captured in that year’s budget as “website”. Naturally, it generated a massive controversy as people, rightly, asked to know the type of website that will be built with N300million.
“It is important to say that journalism should enrich public enlightenment and not create an atmosphere of siege. It is poor reporting to always reduce State House budgetary provisions to the President and Vice President. When the State House makes provision for vehicles, it is reported as if it is the President that will use all the vehicles or eat all the food when a provision is made for food and catering services.
“We have had such inaccurate reporting in the past. A President and Vice President cannot, for any reason, spend N20 million naira to eat in a year if it is about the food they will eat as first and second families. How much food can a person really eat? Yet, we will read headlines that Tinubu, Buhari, Jonathan or whoever the President is wants to spend N5 billion on food and catering in a year when in actual fact such budgetary provisions are made to accommodate many state events, meetings, hosting of VIPs, foreign dignitaries, and even visits by other Heads of State, and bilateral and multilateral meetings that the State House will deal with in a given year,” Ajayi wrote in a piece.
Reps throw out yacht
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives on Thursday yanked off the budgetary allocation of N5.09 billion for purchase of the controversial presidential yacht in the N2.176trn supplementary budget submitted to the lawmakers.
The House, instead, moved the proposed sum to students’ loan thereby increasing allocation for students’ loan to N10 billion as against N5. 5 billion earlier provided in the supplementary budget.
The action of the lawmakers followed the public outcry that trailed the provision made a presidential yacht amidst the hardship Nigerians are facing following the removal of fuel subsidy and other policies by the current administration.
Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, Abubakar Bichi Abubakar (APC, Kano) made this known while addressing newsmen after the passage of the N2.176 trillion supplementary budget.
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