Tope Ajayi, the presidential spokesman, has stated that President Bola Tinubu did not ask for a presidential yacht.
Ajayi’s statement comes on the heels of outrage and backlash directed at the presidency for allocating huge sums of money to things of no national importance while the citizens suffer untold economic hardship.
Since the publication of the details of Tinubu’s N2.1 trillion supplementary budget to the National Assembly, there has been an outcry.
The yacht was given N5.09 billion in the budget, along with N2.9 billion for sport utility vehicles for the Presidential Villa and another N2.9 billion for the replacement of operational cars for Tinubu.
The yacht was included in the Nigerian Navy’s proposed N42.3 billion capital budget.
In response to the comments that have surrounded the matter, Ajayi stated that he doubted that Tinubu requires one to carry out his duties.
“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 for the State House.”
“It is important to state clearly that President Bola Tinubu didn’t ask for a presidential yacht, 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 expenditures should be accommodated now, considering the economic situation of the country. I must readily admit that the one reason our budgeting system has been the 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 N300 million was captured in that year’s budget as a “website”. Naturally, it generated a massive controversy as people, rightly, asked to know the type of website that would be built with N300 million.
“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 for the President and Vice President. When the State House makes provision for vehicles, it is reported as if it is the President who 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 N5 billion 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 in a piece.