Since coming to power in 2019, the office of the president has spent N5 billion on vehicles – enough to build 500 health centres at N10 million each, an online report has shown.
It has also spent billions more on food, uniforms, travels, a huge presidential air fleet, president’s hospital and more.
This is also coming amid massive debt accumulation, deteriorating health facilities, poverty ravaging a larger percentage of the population.
The report showed that as the government deals with budget deficits year after year, it prefers to pile-up debt rather than cut back on a costly lifestyle that has eaten away at national budgets for decades.
In 2022, presidency’s office will spend a whopping N1.6 billion on new vehicles – the fourth largest by any government office. That comes just a year after the office spent nearly half a billion on the same item.
Nigeria’s public debt has risen the most under the Buhari administration when compared to previous governments since 1999, and foreign debt has grown three times more than the combined figure recorded by the past three administrations before President Muhammadu Buhari.
“The revenues are simply inadequate to fund fundamental expenditure, therefore, every available fund should be spent with the greatest value for money, tied to a high-level national policy framework and aimed at improving livelihoods, growing the economy, reducing poverty and inequality,” said Eze Onyekpere of the Centre for Social Justice, whose organisation launched an initiative to identify wasteful items in the 2022 budget.
“It is against this background that the pull-out of frivolous, inappropriate, unclear and wasteful expenditure calls the attention of the executive, legislature, private sector, civil society including the media to these frivolities at a time of grave national crisis.”
Mr Onyekpere condemned the culture of assigning billions of naira annually to projects such as “routine maintenance”, “foreign and local travels” and purchase of computers.
“Spending billions of naira every year on routine maintenance of statehouse facilities is a huge waste. All statutory transfers are stated as lump-sum provisions without details. No person, government agency or organisation has the right in a constitutional democracy to spend public funds in a way and manner that is unknown to the ultimate sovereigns, being the taxpayers and citizens.”
The spending on vehicles follows a trend. For 2021, the president requested the National Assembly to approve N18.9 billion for the purchase of new vehicles for government offices. Of that amount, N336 million was proposed to buy new vehicles for the president.
In the new budget, the president will spend N1.6 billion on new vehicles while the vice president will spend N30 million on new vehicles.
The presidency is also seeking the allocation of N21 billion for the construction of a new presidential wing for the president and his family as well as vice president and his family. The government plans to spend N19 billion on software, with the presidency amongst the biggest spenders.
Personnel cost has continued to rise yearly despite the government not conducting a major recruitment.
In 2022, it hopes to spend N350 billion more on personnel costs and N167 billion more on the overheads than it did in 2021.
Overhead (costs related to administration) totals N792.4 billion for 2022, meaning spending on overheads will surge by more than a quarter in the year ahead should the legislature go ahead to assent to the appropriation bill.
The government got approval of N3.76 trillion for personnel costs for this year and wants N4.11 trillion for that same purpose for 2022.