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N26bn Budget For Food, Travels, Others Shameful, SERAP Knocks Buhari

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has berated President Muhammadu Buhari over the N26bn budgeted for meals, refreshments, travels and other expenses.

The organisation, however, asked the President to cut part of the money and use it to fund the huge budget deficit, and improve public healthcare facilities across the country.

SERAP made this known in a letter dated October 9th, 2021 and signed by its deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare.

It urged Buhari to publish details of spending on construction and repairs of the presidential wing at the medical centre and office furniture and fittings since May 29, 2915.

The organisation also asked the President to send to the National Assembly a fresh 2022 budget, which reflects the reduced proposed spending on its expenditure for its approval.

SERAP, however, promises to take all appropriate legal actions if the President fails to heed the recommended measures within 14 days of the receipt of this letter.

The letter reads: “Many Nigerians will find it quite odd, unfair and unjust that the government is spending so much money on many of these items in the middle of a public borrowing crisis. The proposed spending could be better allocated to improve access of Nigerians to basic public goods and services.

“The government would continue to borrow to fund the country’s budget until there is a substantial cut to the cost of governance. The government should stop spending so much money on these items. Persistent borrowing is neither sustainable nor fair to the Nigerian people.”

“Your government has a responsibility to ensure the interest of the well-being and prosperity of Nigeria and its citizens. The growing budget deficit and debt problems threaten Nigerians’ access to essential public goods and services, and will hurt future generations if not urgently addressed.”

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“SERAP also urges you to publish details of spending on construction and repairs of the presidential wing at the medical center and office furniture and fittings since May 29, 2915.”

“The proposed spending figures highlight the lack of political will to cut the cost of governance, starting from the presidency. This spending is unsustainable, and would take away critical funding to provide access to quality healthcare and education.”

“This would leave the poorest and most vulnerable people without access to these essential public goods and services, and burden the next generation.”

“According to our information, for the Office of the President, you recently proposed in the 2022 appropriation bill to spend N24,835,805,231 for the construction of the presidential wing at the state house medical center, local and foreign travels, meals and refreshments.”

“The construction of the presidential wing will cost N21,974,763,310. N2,309,066,788 is proposed to be spent on general travel and transport while N301,138,860 will be spent on food stuff and catering materials supplies. N250,836,273 is proposed to be spent on refreshments, meals, honorarium, sitting allowance, publicity and advertisements.”

“For the Office of the Vice-President, N1,136,717,757 is proposed for local and foreign travels, meals and refreshments, purchase of office furniture and fittings, and other expenses. The details are: N778,261,411 is proposed to be spent on general travel and transport.”

“N168,210,826 is proposed for office stationeries/computer, consumables, the printing of documents, uniforms and other clothing, foodstuff and catering materials supplies. N2,350,626 is proposed for cooking gas and fuel cost.”

“N99,795,229 is proposed to be spent on refreshments, meals, honorarium, sitting allowance, publicity and advertisements. N31,909,380 is proposed for computer software acquisition while N30,817,085 is proposed for the purchase of motor vehicles. N25,373,200 is proposed for the purchase of office furniture and fittings.”

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“We would therefore be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within 14 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel your government to comply with our requests.”

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