Tope Ajayi, the spokesperson for President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has denied that his boss requested a presidential yacht as part of the N2.1 trillion supplementary budget he submitted to the National Assembly.
The budget, which has sparked public outrage, included N5.09 billion for the yacht, N2.9 billion for sport utility vehicles for the Presidential Villa, and another N2.9 billion for the replacement of operational vehicles for the presidency.
The yacht was categorised under the Nigerian Navy’s proposed capital expenditure of N42.3 billion.
Ajayi said that he doubted that Tinubu needed a yacht to perform his presidential duties and that the request came from the Navy, which must have had operational reasons for it.
He also said that the budget office should explain why such an expenditure was necessary at this time, given the economic situation of the country. He blamed the civil servants who prepared the budget for using simplistic descriptions of some of the line items, which could cause misunderstanding and controversy.
He cited an example from 2016, when 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”.
He also urged journalists to be more accurate and informative in their reporting and not to assume that all the budgetary provisions for the State House were meant for Tinubu and his family.
He said that such provisions were made to accommodate many state events, meetings, the hosting of VIPs and foreign dignitaries, visits by other heads of state, and bilateral and multilateral meetings that the State House would deal with in a given year.