The claim by an Abuja-based newspaper – Nigeria Pilot – that President Muhammadu Buhari and his entourage spent N2.2 billion on his recent official visit to the United States, has been rubbished by the Presidency.
The newspaper had in its recent editorial put the total cost of the four-day trip at N2.2 billion but the Presidency Wednesday said not even up to 10 per cent of the amount claimed was expended on the visit.
A statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said contrary to the newspaper’s assertion, the total cost of the trip to the Nigerian taxpayer was at the most minimal, in line with the policy of the present administration to cut waste and extravagance in governance.
“In point of fact, the total amount expended on the trip by the Office of the President amounted to nothing near ten per cent of the speculated figure”, the statement said.
It expressed sadness that in this age of free-flowing information and in era of change, a media organisation would make itself available as a vehicle to peddle a lie of such low and ignominious quality.
It further stated that as a result of free accommodation provided by the host government, all the personal staff who accompanied the president on the trip, received reduced allowances just as Yusuf, Mr. Buhari’s son, who was on the trip, received neither allowances nor estacode.
The statement also noted that the five governors on the trip each paid their own way.
The Presidency also explained that the permanent secretaries who traveled on the delegation, did so in line with extant rules and none of them exceeded their estacode entitlements.
“Apart from the Nigerian Pilot’s mischievous mathematics, it is short-sighted and misleading of the newspaper to have claimed that President Buhari’s trip to the U.S. achieved nothing”, the statement said.
The statement pointed out that Nigerian-US relations had suffered severely over the past few years, adding “That relationship has now been reset. The benefits of this symbiotic relationship will become more and more evident as the Buhari administration continues to tackle the challenges of corruption security and the economy”.
The Presidency listed some of the benefits of the U.S trip to include the proposed $2.1 billion fund from the World Bank for the re-development of the northeast battered by Boko Haram; $5 billion from US investors in Nigeria’s agriculture sector; $1.5 billion investment in the Nigerian health sector; and another $5 billion investment from the U.S. in our country’s power sector.
It stressed, “Also, as things stand at the moment, the embargo on the sale of weapons sales to Nigeria is in the process of being removed.
“The trip to the U.S by President Buhari was definitely very successful and beneficial to Nigeria.
“Only those rabidly determined to find faults unnecessarily will cook up falsehood in a futile effort to rake up murk where none exists”.