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Amid outrage Tinubu’s spokesperson claims he didn’t ask for presidential yacht

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Tope Ajayi, spokesperson for President Bola Tinubu has said his principal didn’t ask for a presidential yacht, which was one of items contained in the supplementary budget he sent to the National Assembly for approval.

The details of the N2.1 trillion supplementary budget Tinubu submitted to the National Assembly have sparked outrage since they were published.

According to the budget, N5.09 billion was allocated for the yacht, N2.9 billion for sport utility vehicles for the Presidential Villa, N1, 5 billion for vehicles for the Office of First Lady and another N2.9 billion for the replacement of operational vehicles for the presidency.

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The yacht was listed under the Nigerian Navy’s proposed capital expenditure of N42.3 billion.

But reeacting to the criticisms, Ajayi, in a article on Thursday, said he doubted if his principal needed one to perform the functions of his office.

“The trending issues on social media since yesterday are two items in the 2023 supplementary budget. One is the provision for a presidential yacht in the supplementary budget by the Navy and the other is over N6 billion for vehicles to the State House,” he wrote.

“It is important to state clearly that President Bola Tinubu didn’t ask for a presidential yatch and I doubt he needs one to perform the functions of his office. From what I know, the request for a 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.

“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. Examples abound. Sometimes in 2016, an Enterprise Resource Planning ( ERP) project of the Ministry of Solid Minerals worth over N300m then was captured in that year’s budget as “website”. Naturally, it generated a massive controversy as people, rightly, asked to know the type of website that will be built with N300million.

“It is important to say that journalism should enrich public enlightenment and not create an atmosphere of siege. It is poor reporting to always reduce State House budgetary provisions to the President and Vice President. When the State House makes provision for vehicles, it is reported as if it is the President that will use all the vehicles or eat all the food when a provision is made for food and catering services.

“We have had such inaccurate reporting in the past. A President and Vice President cannot, for any reason, spend N20 million naira to eat in a year if it is about the food they will eat as first and second families. How much food can a person really eat? Yet, we will read headlines that Tinubu, Buhari, Jonathan or whoever the President is wants to spend N5billion on food and catering in a year when in actual fact such budgetary provisions are made to accommodate many state events, meetings, hosting of VIPs, foreign dignitaries, and even visits by other Heads of State, and bilateral and multilateral meetings that the State House will deal with in a given year,” Ajayi wrote.

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