N15bn allocation for vice-president’s residence wasteful – SERAP

Advocacy group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Projects has faulted plans by the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nysom Wike, to spend N15bn on a ‘befitting residence’ for the Vice-President of Nigeria, Kashim Shettima.

The group also decried the N2.8bn budget for publicity, stressing that the spending was unnecessary and wasteful.

SERAP expressed its opposition to the budgetary allocations in a statement on Sunday by its Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare.

Oluwadare urged the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, to use his constitutional authority to reject the plans by Wike to spend such huge money on what he described as ‘unnecessary and wasteful’, especially at a time when the country was battling a rising debt profile.

“The plan to spend N15bn on ‘a befitting residence’ for the Vice President is a fundamental breach of the Nigerian Constitution and the country’s international anti-corruption and human rights obligations.

“The National Assembly, including the Senate, has a constitutional responsibility to address the country’s debt crisis, including by rejecting wasteful and unnecessary spending to satisfy the personal comfort and lifestyles of public officials.

The National Assembly cannot continue to fail to fulfill its oversight function. The Senate must assert and demonstrate its independence by checking and rejecting all wasteful and unnecessary spending by the executive.

“It would be a grave violation of the public trust and constitutional oath of office for the Senate to approve the plan to spend N15bn on ‘a befitting residence’ for the vice president at a time when the Federal Government is set to spend 30 per cent (that is, N8.25 trillion) of the country’s 2024 budget of N27.5tn on debt service costs.”

The group disclosed that a sum of N7bn had been initially allocated for the purpose of building the Vice-President’s residence and it would not hesitate to institute legal actions against the National Assembly if it fails to stop wasteful spending and continuous borrowing by the Federal Government.

“The Federal Government also plans to borrow N7.8 trillion to fund the 2024 budget. Nigeria’s public debt stood at 87.4 trillion naira as of June with 38% owed to external creditors including multilateral and commercial lenders. The National Assembly has also approved another N3 billion for the renovation of the vice president’s residence in Lagos State. Mr Wike also plans to spend N2.8bn on publicity for the FCTA.

“Should the Senate and its leadership fail to stop wasteful and unnecessary spending and rein in government borrowing, SERAP would consider appropriate legal action to compel the National Assembly including the Senate to discharge its constitutional oversight roles in the public interest.

“SERAP urges you to refer to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission  and Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission  the allegations of corruption in the spending of the previously approved N7bn for the construction of a new residence for the vice president,” the letter noted.


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