In 6 months, Tinubu’s trips gulped N3.4bn
President Bola Tinubu has spent not less than N3.4bn on local and foreign travel within six months of assuming office.
The figure is 36 per cent more than the N2.49bn earmarked for the President’s travel expenditure in the 2023 budget.
Though Tinubu inherited the budget halfway, he spent more than what was apportioned for the whole year between June and December 2023.
The President also approved the sum of N3bn for the purchase of three bulletproof Mercedes Benz S-class 580 and the supply of other vehicles to the State House.
Last year, Tinubu’s government attracted public opprobrium for sponsoring at least 1,114 delegates to the United Nation’s annual climate summit, COP28, in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates.
Although the Presidency said it sponsored only 422 delegates, reports say it spent N2.78bn on airfares and estacodes.
However, last week, the Presidency announced Tinubu’s decision to slash by 60 per cent his entourage size for domestic and international travels.
“President Bola Tinubu has approved that anywhere he travels within this country he will no longer accept or allow huge security delegations to be following him from Abuja, which attracts massive bills with respect to estacode and duty allowances,” the Special Adviser to the President on Media, Ajuri Ngelale, told journalists in Abuja.
Meanwhile, checks by our correspondent using GovSpend, a civic tech platform that tracks and analyses the Federal Government’s spending, showed that a total sum of N1.15bn was spent as provision for presidential trips and other related expenses in the last six months. The figure did not include estacodes of the President’s entourage.
A monthly breakdown of this amount revealed that the government spent N82.2m in June, N393.3m was paid for trips and related expenses in August 2023, and N287.9m was also spent for these expenses in September.
Though no amount was paid in October, President Tinubu spent N314.2m in November and N69.2m embarking on local and foreign trips in December.
Further analysis of the expenses showed that N732.8m was paid to two travel tour companies for the purchase of presidential international and local air tickets. This may suggest that the President has paused the usage of presidential air fleets for his trips. The two companies, Hinterland Travels and Travel Options, were paid N687.7m and N45.1m, respectively.
Also, the sum of N1.53bn was paid for the purchase of forex worth $5.1m, 300 euros during travels.
Specifically, on September 5, 2023, the President spent N791m to purchase forex worth $4m while the President’s wife, Oluremi Tinubu, paid N77.7m to buy foreign currencies worth $94.314.
In his first seven months in office, Tinubu has so far visited Paris, France (twice); London, the United Kingdom; Bissau, Guinea-Bissau (twice); Nairobi, Kenya; Porto Norvo, Benin Republic; New Delhi, India; Abu Dhabi and Dubai, the United Arab Emirates; New York, the United States of America; Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; and Berlin, German, spending 55 days.
While the Presidency defended these trips as vital for attracting foreign direct investment into Nigeria, critics question the economic impact, particularly the size of the entourage.
Latest data from the National Bureau of Statistics revealed that capital importation crashed by 43.55 per cent in the third quarter of 2023, defying efforts by the current administration to attract investments into the country.
Reacting, the Executive Director of the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, Auwal Rafsanjani, said the Tinubu administration has not been truthful with its stance to reduce the cost of governance, stressing that if the President meant business, he would have reduced allocations in the recently passed 2024 budget.
The human rights activist in an exclusive interview The PUNCH on Sunday, said, “Everyone knows that the government is lying because first and foremost, you just submitted a budget and it was passed weeks back and no attempt was made to reduce the duplication and waste in the budget. The President should have shown right from the proposed budget that he is serious about reducing the cost of governance so that all the duplication, waste and money meant to be diverted and stolen will be blocked.
“All he said is politics. The Tinubu administration has no regard and respect in terms of public spending. Let nobody be deceived that they meant what they are talking about. It’s sad because everything shouldn’t be political or politicised. There should be sincerity and honesty in everything we do.
“What Tinubu has done is simply to stir up public sentiments and get the public to applaud him for doing nothing. In reality, the President created more ministries and ministers unnecessarily. These are part of what is eating up public funds and not just travel expenses. The President should show his readiness to reduce the cost of governance by reducing budgetary allocations and stop playing public sentiments.”