President Bola Tinubu, as per a statement from presidential spokesman Tope Ajayi, did not make any demand for a yacht.
This situation emerges amid public uproar following the release of the details of the N2.1 trillion supplementary budget Tinubu presented to the National Assembly.
As per the budget, N5.09 billion was earmarked for the yacht, N2.9 billion for sport utility vehicles for the Presidential Villa, and an additional N2.9 billion for the renewal of operational vehicles for the presidency.
The Nigerian Navy’s proposed capital expenditure of N42.3 billion included the allocation for the yacht.
Addressing the issue, Ajayi expressed doubt on whether his principal needed one to execute the tasks of his office.
‘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 yatch, 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.’
Ajayi further stated, ‘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 to the President and Vice President.’
‘When the State House makes provision for vehicles, it is reported as if it is the President that 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,’ he said.