SOCIO-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged Senate to reject the plan by the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nysom Wike to spend N15 billion for the construction of ‘a befitting residence’ for the Vice President.
The Organisation also urged the Senate President Godswill Akpabio to assert the Senate’s authority and constitutional oversight responsibilities by opposing the allocation of N2.8 billion for publicity by the FCTA and other proposed ‘wasteful and unnecessary’ spending that may be contained in the 2023 supplementary budget and the 2024 budget proposed by President Bola Tinubu.
In a statement issued on December 3, SERAP’s deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare, highlighted that the proposal to allocate N15 billion for a ‘befitting residence’’ for the vice president violates the Nigerian Constitution and the nation’s international commitments regarding anti-corruption measures and human rights.
According to the statement, the Senate has the constitutional duties to ensure that the Minister proposed spending is entirely consistent and compatible with constitutional provisions including his oath of office.
Part of the letter read: “It would be a grave violation of the public trust and constitutional oath of office for the Senate to approve the plan to spend N15 billion on ‘a befitting residence’ for the vice president at a time when the Federal Government is set to spend 30% (that is, N8.25 trillion) of the country’s 2024 budget of N27.5 trillion on debt service costs.”
“The Federal Government also plans to borrow N7.8 trillion to fund the 2024 budget. Nigeria’s public debt stood at 87.4 trillion naira as of June with 38% owed to external creditors including multilateral and commercial lenders.”
SERAP further threatened to take legal action against the National Assembly should it fail to stop what it described as ‘wasteful and unnecessary’ spending.
“SERAP urges you to refer to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) the allegations of corruption in the spending of the previously approved N7 billion for the construction of a new residence for the vice president.”
It added that “The House of Representatives has reportedly approved the plan to spend N15 billion on ‘a befitting residence’ for the vice president. The National Assembly has also approved another N3 billion for the renovation of the vice president’s residence in Lagos State. Mr Wike also plans to spend N2.8 billion on publicity for the FCTA.”
“The proposed plan to spend 15 billion on ‘a ‘a befitting residence’ for the vice president is different from the N100 billion for the FCT contained in the federal government supplementary budget.”
The organisation, also noted that the Federal Government also budgeted N8 billion on the two official residences of Tinubu in Abuja and Lagos.
It further stressed that on top of the planned spending of N15 billion on ‘a befitting residence’ for the vice president, billions of naira have been allocated for the purchase of cars for the Villa and the Office of the First Lady.
Referencing the Nigerian constitution, SERAP quoted that the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of the government.