Home » Senate, Reps disagree over N5.2bn presidential yacht fund in supplementary budget

Senate, Reps disagree over N5.2bn presidential yacht fund in supplementary budget

by Samson Echenim

The Nigerian Senate and House of Representatives on Thursday moved in opposite directions in the approval of the controversial N5.2 billion provision for acquisition of presidential yacht in the 2023 supplementary budget.

The House of Representatives at its plenary on Thursday stepped down the N5.2 billion proposed in the 2023 supplementary budget for the presidential yacht.

Abubakar Bichi, chairperson of the House Committee on Appropriation (APC, Kano), announced this on Thursday after the passage of the N2.17 trillion supplementary budget by the House.The same supplementary budget was passed in the senate during the plenary presided over by Godswill Akpabio, who is the President of the upper chamber.

Speaking to journalists, Bichi said the committee removed the item and rather moved the money to the provision for student loans which is now N10 billion.

Meanwhile, a Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Temitope Ajayi has linked the request for the presidential yacht to the Nigerian Navy. In a statement circulated on social media (X and Facebook) by Bayo Onanuga, the President’s Special Adviser on Information and Strategy, Ajayi argued that the budget for the presidential yacht is an operational need of the Navy.

“The budget for the 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,” Ajayi wrote.

He continued: “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.”

However, Businessday reported on Thursday that the Senate approved the N2.17 trillion 2023 Supplementary budget despite wide concerns around the spending plan which contains provisions for the acquisition of a presidential yacht and a substantial amount for funding luxury vehicles for the office of the First Lady which is not constitutionally recognized.

President Bola Tinubu, in a letter on Tuesday, urged the Senate to give the Supplementary Appropriation Bill 2023 expeditious consideration to enable the government to embark on urgent national issues.

The Senate led by Godswill Akpabio passed for bill after considering the harmonized report of the Senate and House Committee on Appropriation presented on the floor of the Senate on Thursday by chairman of the committee Solomon Adeola, Senator representing Ogun West.

The bill scaled third reading and was subsequently passed by the Senate.

“The Committee recommends the authorization of the issuance of the consolidated revenue fund of the federation, the aggregate sum of N2, 176,791, 286.003 only”, Adeola said.

The budget as approved by the Senate includes the widely criticized 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.

In summary, the budget includes 18 billion for statutory transfer which is meant for the Independent National Electoral Commission, N1. 33 trillion for recurrent and non-debt expenditures. N1.1 trillion for contribution to development fund and capital expenditure in the year ending on the 31st day of December 2023.

Adeola noted that the National Assembly had, a few months ago, approved the total of N819.5 billion presented by the president which amongst other things was for the provision of a N500 billion palliative package to cushion the effects of the recent economic policies of the Federal Government.

Fundamentally, the bill seeks to provide additional palliative measures including the Wages and rewards of public servants, the cash transfer program for the most vulnerable, and additional funds for critical defense expenditure urgently required to ensure peace and lives of security.

It also provides for critical investment in road infrastructure which, the Committee chairman said must commence within the dry season of November and December.

The benefiting agencies also include the Ministry of Defence; Police Formation and Command; Office of the National Security Adviser; The Department of State Security Services; The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security Ministry of Work, housing, and the Federal Capital Territory Administration.

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