• Defence gets lion’s share • Yacht belongs to Navy, Presidency insists
Amid outcry by Nigerians on the subject of some subheads in government’s spending while severe hardship dot across the country, the National Assembly yesterday, passed the N2.176 trillion supplementary budget requested by President Bola Tinubu. There were however remarkable differences in the final draft approved by both chambers of the National Assembly.
While the House of Representatives bowed to popular outcry generated over the controversial allocation of N5.095 billion for the purchase of presidential yacht, which it delisted, the Senate went ahead to pass it amid strident explanations by the Presidency.
The Senate approved a supplementary budget for the renovation in the presidency with a whooping sum of N13.5 billion. The approval also covered purchase of official vehicles for the First Lady’s office at a cost of N1.5 billion.
A breakdown analysis of the expenses for the Presidency included renovation of residential quarters for the President to gulp N4 billion, renovation of Aguda House to gulp N2.5 billion, renovation of Dodan Barracks, official residence of the President in Lagos to gulp N4 billion, renovation of official quarters of the vice president in Lagos to gulp N3 billion, all to be funded from the supplementary budget
Other items for the State House include purchase of SUVs at N2.9 billion and replacement of operational pool vehicles at N2.9 billion. Computerisation and digitalisation of the State House was allocated N200 million.
The Senate had expeditiously passed the N2.176 trillion 2023 supplementary budget transmitted by President Tinubu on Tuesday, following the adoption of a report by the Appropriations Committee, presented by the chairman, Senator Adeola Olamilekan (APC, Ogun West) during plenary.
President Tinubu had, in a letter, asked the federal lawmakers to approve the proposal, the second of such this year after N819.5 billion was approved to provide palliatives for poor Nigerians.
The president, in his letter, said it had become necessary to make further provision for additional palliative measures, including the wage award for public servants and the enhanced Cash Transfer Programme, which is intended to benefit the most vulnerable members of society.
A detail of the supplementary budget indicated that N1.01 trillion was for recurrent expenditure while N1.165 trillion was for capital expenditure.
The breakdown of the allocations to sectors and agencies shows that Service Wide Vote takes the lion share of N615 billion followed by the Ministry of Defence with N476.5 billion while the Federal Ministry of Works gets N300 billion.
The State House is to spend N28 billion; Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security gets N200 billion; Ministry of Housing, N100 billion; Department of State Services, N49 billion; while the FCTA gets N100 billion.
Also, police formations and commands were allocated N50 billion; Office of the National Security Adviser (NSA), N29.7 billion; capital supplementation was allocated N210 billion while the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) got N18 billion.
At the House of Representatives, lawmakers scrapped the budgetary allocation for presidential yacht and added the N5.095 billion for the item to the students’ loan, which increased the students loan allocation to N10 billion.
Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, Abubakar Bichi, who disclosed this in an interview with journalists, said they also increased the budgetary allocation of the Ministry of Defence from N476 billion to N546 billion following security concerns.
Bichi also disclosed that the minimum wage for workers was considered and approved for onward transmission to the executive, while promising proper legislative oversight to ensure 100 per cent implementation.
In the supplementary budget sent to the National Assembly, the Federal Government allocated N5 billion to purchase a presidential yacht. The proposed sum was under the capital expenditure of the Nigerian Navy’s budget.
According to the breakdown, the Navy will require N62.8 billion for its operations, with recurrent expenditure and capital expenditure gulping N20.4 billion and N42.3 billion, respectively.
But Bichi said the N5 billion for the yacht has been yanked off from the budget. “We have increased the student loan. Initially, students’ loan was N5 billion but we have increased it to N10 billion so that our students can access that facility in order for them to go to school. We don’t have the yacht anymore in the budget.”
On the other breakdown of the budget, he said: “The Ministry of Defence has about N456 billion but currently it has the largest share because we know how important our security is. We increased their budget from N456 billion to N546 billion.
“For police formation and command, we gave them N50 billion, while FCT has N100 billion. On the office of national security, their initial budget was N27 billion but currently we have increased it to N50 billion. For the State House, their initial budget was N28 billion and we maintained that. For INEC, initially their budget was N18 billion, and yesterday (Wednesday) we had an interaction with the INEC Chairman and he convinced us with his submissions. So, we maintained their N18 billion.”
THE Presidency however insisted that the yacht proposed in the budget belonged to the Nigerian Navy. The clarification was made by the Special Adviser to the President on Information and Strategy, Bayo Onanuga.
Onanuga said: “Following public reactions over the provision for what is termed presidential yacht and other line items in the 2023 Supplementary Appropriation presented to the National Assembly, it is important to provide some clarifications.
“First, we need to make clear that President Tinubu’s administration respects the views of Nigerians on all matters of public concern. We thus consider it very imperative to clear any misconception and misunderstanding of the issues.
“What was named as Presidential Yacht in the budget is an operational Naval boat with specialised security gadgets suitable for high profile operational inspection and not for the use of the President. It is called a presidential yacht by way of nomenclature because of the high-level security features.
“The Naval boat was ordered by the Navy under the previous administration. President Tinubu has consistently said that the government is a continuum as he inherited both assets and liabilities of past administrations.
“The payment request for the boat was part of the committed obligation submitted by the office of the Chief of Naval Staff to the Ministry of Defence. The total of the submitted requests was in excess of N200 billion out of which N62 billion was approved by the President.
“President Tinubu is focused on securing our country and territorial waters. The Federal Government under his leadership is investing more resources to enhance greater economic output from our oil and gas, marine and blue economy.
“In President Tinubu, we have a leader who understands the economic challenges being faced by the masses. His administration is working very hard to confront and surmount those challenges. Nigerians will soon get the benefits of the ongoing reforms that will certainly lead to a buoyant and improved quality of life for all citizens.”
Earlier, another aide, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Temitope Ajayi, stated that on matters of vehicles, “the N6 billion budget provision is not to buy vehicles for the President and Vice President alone. President Tinubu and Vice President Shettima are not using any new vehicles in their fleet. They are using inherited vehicles. There are hundreds of civil servants and political aides working at the State House who need operational vehicles.
“I am a senior aide of the President. I am using my personal car and at my own expense since I resumed work more than five months ago. Like me, virtually all the appointees of the President are using personal vehicles at their own expense for official duties. Most of the vehicles in the pool for various departments are run down. Even members of the State House Press Corps do not have a functional bus to ease their movement. I know for a fact that a request for a new bus for the State House Press Corps is captured in the supplementary budget for vehicles.
“It is necessary to add that none of the political appointees has drawn any benefit and perks from the public treasury. I must add that in five months, we have not even received a kobo as salary because of procedural issues involved in capturing new appointees on the payroll via IPPIS.
“The Presidency is a huge bureaucracy with hundreds of staff. Any budget head for the State House is to run the system, not for an epicurean fantasy of a sitting President and Vice President.
|VISIT OUR OTHER WEBSITES|
|Digital Skills Bank||Nigeria Reports||Hausa.Nigeria Reports|
|Opportunities Hub (OHUB)||Digital Skills Clinic||Technopreneur|
|Digi Top-UP||Babangidaruma.com||Collective Development|