Senator Ali Ndume, the Senate Chief Whip, has disclosed that the presidential yacht was signed and delivered but not paid for prior to the public outrage, and the Senate has since added the required payment cost to the student loan fund.
Ndume made this clarification while speaking on Arise Television’s Morning Show on Friday about the supplementary budget review.
According to the All Progressives Congress Senator for Borno South, “We queried the amount budgeted for the yacht, but it was signed for a dollar rate, and the new rate isn’t favourable. The budget was predicated for about N435, and now it is over N800.
“The Navy also clarified that it is not a new budget. And even the House of Representatives moved the budget to the student loan. The deal for the yacht has been agreed, signed, and delivered, but not paid for.”
Speaking on the N160m for Land Cruiser SUVs for each legislator in the National Assembly, Ndume stated that purchasing vehicles for official purposes is nothing new for government employees.
Ndume insisted that the price of the automobiles was also influenced by the volatility of the naira-to-dollar exchange rate, noting that the vehicles are required for legislators.
“The reason why we did not choose Nigerian-made cars is because they don’t manufacture their vehicles, but they assemble them.
“I prefer Nigerian-made products, but the Nigerian car companies are only buying the vehicle parts and assembling them here.”
Ndume opined that SUVs are necessary because most Nigerian roads are impassable and that these vehicles are the only ones capable of assisting them in carrying out their supervisory tasks.
Nigerians condemned a part of the expenditures proposed in the 2023 supplementary budget the President submitted to the National Assembly for approval, including a proposal to spend N5.095 billion on a presidential yacht.
The Presidency responded by stating that the item titled ‘Presidential Yacht’ included in the 2023 Supplementary Appropriation Bill is not for President Bola Tinubu’s personal use.
As it said, the naval boat bears such a classification “because of the high-level security features.”
Special Adviser to the President on Information and Strategy, Bayo Onanuga, explained in a statement on Thursday evening that “what was named as a presidential yacht in the budget is an operational Naval boat with specialized security gadgets suitable for high-profile operational inspection and not for the use of the President.”