Tinubu budgets N40.6 billion to renovate Aso Rock, over 100% more than past presidents

DESPITE the hardship facing Nigeria and the country’s current wobbling economy, President Bola Tinubu approved N40.62 billion of public funds for the renovation and maintenance of the State House headquaters, otherwise known as Aso Rock Villa, in the nation’s capital, Abuja, findings from the 2024 budget have shown. 

The ICIR compared the amount Tinubu approved for the Villa renovation with what three past presidents approved for the same purpose in their first year in office.

The data revealed that Tinubu’s allocation is the highest ever. 

Tinubu’s approval for the renovation and maintenance of the Aso Villa is more than 150 per cent higher than the budget approved by any other past president during their first year in office.


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For instance, under former president Muhammadu Buhari, who came into power in 2015, his first budget approval in 2016 for the renovation of Aso Rock was N11.55 billion.

Also, former President Goodluck Johnathan approved N16.12 billion in 2012, following his election as president in 2011.

Jonathan’s predecessor, President Umaru Yar’Adua, who assumed office in May 2007, proposed N15.62 billion in 2008 to maintain the State House.

According to several media reports, it took Tinubu two months to finally move into the Aso Rock.

After his inauguration, he operated from a private residence, resulting in road closures, traffic gridlocks and public complaints in the nation’s capital. 

Introspection into the Aso Rock Budget

The allocation falls under the Presidency budget category, with N306.57 billion covering 18 departments and agencies in the 2024 approved budget. However, findings by The ICIR show that the budget for the State Headquarters is the third largest allocation under the category, with a share of 13.25 per cent.

Further observation revealed that the same amount (N40.62 billion) proposed for the Villa renovation by the presidency was passed by the National Assembly and signed for approval. 

2024 states house headquarters budget
2024 State House Headquarters budget

Villa’s budget is expected to take care of the State House personnel, overhead cost and capital expenditure. The capital expenditure would gulp N28.82 billion for 20 projects.

Findings showed that out of the 20 projects, 14 are ongoing, while six are new.

Some of the ongoing projects include the purchase of sporting equipment for the State House sports club with N29.38 million, procurement of equipment for the central gymnasium for N24.77 million, upgrade of State House library for N35.22 million, conversion/upgrade of Villa Ranch and construction of wildlife conversation capture for N130.08 million.

The budget also provides N9.20 billion for the annual routine maintenance of mechanical/electrical installation at the Villa, N351.08 million for purchasing utility and operational vehicles, and N45.26 million for the rehabilitation of animal enclosure/procurement of veterinary laboratory equipment, among others. 

The ICIR reports that most of these ongoing projects have repeatedly gulped public funds yearly. 

The ICIR reported that the President might pay over N30 million monthly to offset salaries in his administrative cabinet.

With the numerous appointments made by the President, N3.5 billion was approved for the construction of office complexes for Special Assistants (SAs) and Senior Special Assistance (SSAs). 






     

     

    Other new projects inserted in the budget are the acquisition, renovation, rehabilitation and finishing of the State House annexe for N3.5 billion, the replacement of SUV vehicles for N2 billion, the purchase of State House operational vehicles for N4 billion and the purchase of computer equipment for finance, account and internal audit for N46 million.

    A report by the Centre for Social Justice disclosed that most of the funds allocated by the government to the Villa were frivolous and could be reduced by as much as 50 per cent.

    The report also noted that most of the line items had been provided for in the 2023 supplementary budget or previous budgets. 

    The CSJ report recommended that at least N22 billion could be saved from the total amount allocated to the State Headquarters.

    Kehinde Ogunyale tells stories by using data to hold power into account. You can send him a mail at [email protected] or Twitter: Prof_KennyJames

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