Tinubu, Shettima spend N8.64bn on travel expenses in three months

A recent analysis of the Nigerian government’s spending has raised concerns over the high costs of local and foreign travel incurred by President Bola Tinubu, Vice President Kashim Shettima, and First Lady Remi Tinubu in the first three months of 2024.

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According to the analysis conducted by the civic tech platform GovSpend, the trio spent a staggering N5.24 billion on their travels during this period. This includes N1.35 billion for presidential trips and related expenses, N3.53 billion for foreign exchange purchases during 10 international trips, and N637.85 million disbursed to two travel agencies for air ticket purchases.

The report also revealed that the government spent an additional N12.59 billion on the maintenance of the presidential air fleet within the same timeframe. Notably, this figure does not even include the estacode (daily allowance) expenses for the President’s entourage.

Recall that in the first six months of his administration, President Tinubu had already spent N3.4 billion on his travels, which was 36% more than the N2.49 billion earmarked for the President’s travel expenditure in the 2023 budget. This brings the total spending on local and foreign trips between June 2023 and March 2024 to a staggering N8.64 billion.

Financial experts have weighed in on the issue, acknowledging the potential benefits of presidential trips in fostering diplomatic ties, promoting national interests, and attracting foreign investment. However, they also highlighted the high costs associated with these trips and the need to balance them against the country’s pressing needs in areas like healthcare, education, and infrastructure development.

“The N8.64 billion spent on President Tinubu’s trips in eight months alone could have been used for healthcare, education, or infrastructure development,” said Olorunfemi Idris, a financial expert.

Professor Cletus Agu, an economist, emphasized the importance of considering whether the money was expended judiciously and if the outcomes would have a positive impact on the economy. He stated, “If he is spending the money with the view to making Nigeria better, and his vision is to improve the economy, there is nothing wrong with it.”

On the other hand, Dr. Akin Akinleye, another economist, called on the government to cut irrelevant expenses given the current economic situation and prioritize travel that would provide tangible economic benefits to the nation.

As the government faces scrutiny over its spending priorities, the debate continues on striking a balance between diplomatic engagements and addressing the immediate needs of the Nigerian people.

 

 

Credit: The PUNCH

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