Gbajabiamila clarifies N10bn residential rehab budget, mum on similar software allocation

PRESIDENT Bola Tinubu’s Chief of Staff (CoS) Femi Gbajabiamila, has refuted claim that he would spend N10 billion from the proposed N27.5 trillion 2024 budget on his official residence.

The response followed reports by some media platforms on the amount budgeted for the rehabilitation of CoS residence and the purchase of software computers.

Although the chief of staff failed to justify or explain the quality of computer software that would consume N10 billion, he said  the N10 billion allocated for rehabilitating fixed assets was for the presidential lodge and the vice presidential quarters’ repair.

A review of the proposed budget by The ICIR showed that the CoS office will gulp N21 billion, with the renovation of fixed assets and computer software acquisition amounting to N10 billion each.

The breakdown of the N10 billion earmarked for renovation of the fixed assets showed that N5 billion was budgeted for the repair of Dodan Barracks presidential lodge and the vice presidential quarters.

The purchase of fixed assets, such as computers, printers, vehicles, refreshments, and office stationery, among other expenditures, takes up the remaining amount.

Reacting to this, Gbajabiamila wrote on his X handle on Wednesday, December 6: “I have seen social media commentary regarding the 2024 appropriation bill, particularly the provisions under the Office of the Chief of Staff to the President. Owing to the erroneous nature of these reports, it has become necessary to clarify that there is no provision in the 2024 appropriation bill for the renovation of any residence for the chief of staff to the President. I live in my private residence. 

“The sums mischievously quoted by online bloggers and fake news merchants are for renovating the Presidential Quarters in Dodan Barracks and the Vice President’s Lodge in Lagos, to overhaul the information management and communications facilities in the presidency to meet modern standards and to provide vehicles for the staff of the presidency. The sums proposed for these projects are clearly stated in the budget proposal and bear no resemblance to the deceptive online commentary.”

He further stressed that Tinubu’s administration encouraged constructive scrutiny of government expenditure.

Meanwhile, the N10 billion allocated in the proposed 2024 national budget was aside the previously allocated N15 billion for a ‘befitting residence’ for the Vice President by the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Minister, Nysom Wike. 

Wike made the proposal from the N61.5 billion 2023 supplementary budget of the FCT presented before the House of Representatives Committee on FCT recently.

Budget for the planned construction of the new residence by Wike adds to the N2.5 billion earmarked for renovating the Vice President’s current residence in the recently passed 2023 Nigeria’s supplementary budget. 

    This means that if the N5 billion budgeted for the rehabilitation of the vice president residence in the 2024 budget under the CoS’ Office is approved, the total fund for the building and rehabilitation of the vice presidential building will exceed N22 billion, as stated in the 2023 supplementary budget and 2024 appropriation bill.

    On November 29, Tinubu presented a proposed 2024 budget of N27.5 trillion to the National Assembly.

    The ICIR reported how capital projects across Nigeria would suffer more as the Federal Government projected 45 per cent of its N18.3 trillion expected revenue in 2024 to service debts.

    The 2024 budget proposed an aggregate expenditure of N27.5 trillion for the Federal Government, of which the non-debt recurrent expenditure is N9.92 trillion naira, while debt service is projected to be N8.25 trillion naira and capital expenditure is N8.7 trillion.

    Usman Mustapha is a solution journalist with International Centre for Investigative Reporting. You can easily reach him via: [email protected]. He tweets @UsmanMustapha_M

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