Reps bow to pressure, dump N5bn presidential yacht proposal

The National Assembly, yesterday, passed the N2.176 trillion supplementary budget presented to it by President Bola Tinubu for the 2023 fiscal year but yanked off the presidential yacht proposal. 

President Tinubu had, in a letter read in both chambers, 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 in July.

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 intended to benefit the most vulnerable members of society.

The budget has a capital component of N1.165 trillion and a recurrent component of N1.010 trillion.

Breakdown of the State House budget showed that N4 billion would be spent for the renovation of residential quarters for Mr. President; renovation of Aguda House to gulp N2.5 billion; renovation of Dodan Barracks, official residence of Mr. President in Lagos, N4 billion and renovation of official quarters of vice president in Lagos, N3 billion, totally N13.5 billion.

Other items for the State House included the purchase of SUV vehicles at N2.9 billion and the replacement of operational pool vehicles at N2.9 billion, and computerisation and digitalisation of the State House was allocated N200 million.

Further breakdown indicated that Police formations and commands were to get N50 billion, Department of State Services, N49 billion, Office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) N29 billion while Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) will gulp N18 billion.

Capital supplementation was allocated N210.5 billion, Ministry of agriculture and food security, N200 billion while the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) and Ministry of Housing have N100 billion each.

Service Wide Votes was allocated N615 billion while the Ministry of Defense gets N476.54 billion and Ministry of Works gets N300 billion.

The budget also included in the Nigeria Navy section, N5 billion earmarked for a Presidential Yacht.

Heads of the relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) who benefited from the N2.176 trillion supplementary budget had on Wednesday separately appeared before the Senate and House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations to defend their submissions…..

The lawmakers approved budgetary proposals for the renovation of President Bola Tinubu and Vice President Kassim Shettima’s official residences in Lagos and Abuja with N13.5 billion and purchase of official vehicles for the First Lady’s Office with N1.5 billion.

However, the House moved the N5 billion proposed for a presidential yacht to the Students Loan Scheme. The N5 billion proposal for the presidential yacht, which was captured under Nigerian Navy subhead, had attracted criticisms.

Chairman, House Committee on Appropriation, Abubakar Bichi, while giving a breakdown of the supplementary budget approved by the Green Chamber, told journalists that budget for Defence was jerked up from N456 billion to N546,209,009,671 because of the security situation in the country.

He explained that the budget for the Office of the National Security Adviser was also increased from N27 billion to N50 billion while the Service Wide Vote was reduced from N615 billion to N515 billion.

According to him, “the Ministry of Defence has the largest share because you know how our security is. We had interaction with them and they requested additional funds. And we increased  the N456 billion (proposed) to N546,209,009,671. We gave N50 billion to Police formation and Commands.

“The FCT has about N100 billion. The FCT, you know, is very important to us. That is why we want to make sure that the FCT can compete with any city in the world. That is why we have decided to give them N100 billion.

“Office of the National Security Adviser, you know how important that office is. Their  initial budget was  N27 billion, but we have increased their budget to N50 billion, while the state House, their initial budget was N28 billion and we still maintained  that figure.”

The lawmaker added that “the Ministry of Agriculture, we  know how important that ministry is, we are talking about food security, and, of course, it is very critical and important to our people across the country. And we have maintained  the initial figure of N200 billion.

“Ministry of Housing, you know we have a serious housing deficit in this country. And Mr President’s agenda, he is doing as much as he can. So, we have approved N100 billion for the Ministry of Housing.

“Service wide vote initially was N615 billion, but we reduced it to N515 billion. For INEC, their request was N18 billion, yesterday we had an engagement with the INEC chairman, and he has convinced us. So far, we have approved the sum of N2,176,791,286,033.

The Appropriation Committee chairman, while responding to a question on presidential yacht said: “As far as we are concerned, we don’t have that Presidential yacht anymore. We have increased the Student Loan. If you can recall, the student loan was N5 billion in the budget, but now we have increased it from N5 billion to N10 billion, so that our students can access that facility in order for them to be able to go to school and to be able to afford them. Actually, we don’t have a yacht anymore.”



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