The allocation of N1.3bn for the president and vice-president’s food, furniture, and entertainment in the 2012 budget of the federal government is being queried by the Senate Committee on Federal Character and Intergovernmental Affairs. That is more than $8m.
After presidency officials presented the details of the budget on Monday, in its response, the committee described it as outrageous with questions like “why would a whopping N500m be allocated for the purchase of foodstuff alone?”
The committee was also alarmed by a separate allocation of N293m for refreshment despite N500m for food items, as well as N265m for the purchase of computers, which was in the 2011 budget, and another N295m for furniture alone.
“The huge allocation for food stuff in a country where 70 percent live below a dollar and 90 percent live below two dollars per day is out rightly outrageous,” said Senator Isa Galadu. “I do not understand why you have allocated N293m for refreshment, apart from the food stuff allocation. The people are correct and they are right to show their anger on this,” he added.
Chairman of the committee, Senator Dahiru Kuta, also demanded explanations from the Permanent Secretary at the Presidency, Mr. Tunji Olaopa, on the N295m allocated for furniture for an unspecified residence.
“The purchase of residential furniture for N295m, is it for the residence of Mr. President? Also, you have N265m for computers, you bought computers last year, why do you still want to buy computers this year?” he asked
In defense of the government’s spending, Olaopa said federal government is committed to reducing expenditures at the State House, as shown by the N18.3bn allocated to the State House in 2012 compared with N20bn allocated in 2011. According to him, the allocations were to cater for statutory meetings and other official engagements at the State House.
“Permit me to say that when we talk about the budget of the presidency, there is some misrepresentation regarding provision for food stuffs, entertainment and all. Permit me to say that the State House is a huge bureaucracy on its own and it is a meeting point for huge arrays for critical stakeholders, both local and international,” he said.
Regarding the allocation for computers, Olaopa said it was included in the 2012 budget because only N5m was released for computers in 2011. According to him, the furniture is meant for the Vice-President’s new residence.