Cost of President Buhari’s trip to U.S. grossly exaggerated – Presidency
The Presidency on Wednesday frowned at a newspaper report which exaggerated the cost of the recent visit of President Muhammadu Buhari to the United States.
Mallam Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity condemned the report in a statement issued in Abuja.
He said that contrary to the newspaper’s assertion, the total cost of the trip to the Nigerian taxpayer was at the most minimal.
He said the expenditure was in line with the policy of the All Progressives Congress-led administration to cut waste and extravagance.
He said that even the President’s son who was on the trip was neither paid allowances nor estacode while the five governors, who were also on the trip financed themselves.
Shehu said the Permanent Secretaries who traveled on the delegation did so in accordance with extant rules and none of them exceeded their estacode entitlements.
The statement read: “Our attention has been drawn to an editorial published in the Nigerian Pilot of August 2, 2015 and an earlier report in which the total cost of President Muhammadu Buhari’s recent trip to the U.S. was estimated at N2.2 billion.
“It is very sad that in this age of free-flowing information and in this era of CHANGE, a media organisation would make itself available as a vehicle to peddle a lie of such low and ignominious quality.
“Contrary to the newspaper’s assertions, the total cost of the trip to the Nigerian taxpayer was at the most minimal, in line with the policy of this administration to cut waste and extravagance.
“In point of fact, the total amount expended on the trip by the Office of the President amounted to nothing near ten per cent of the speculated figure.
“Owing to the free accommodation provided by the host government, all the personal staff who accompanied the President on the trip received reduced allowances.
“His son, Yusuf, received neither allowances nor estacode.
“The five governors on the trip each paid his own way. Permanent Secretaries who traveled on the delegation did so in accordance with extant rules and none of them exceeded their estacode entitlements.
“Apart from the Nigerian Pilot’s mischievous mathematics, it is shortsighted and misleading of the newspaper to have claimed that President Buhari’s trip to the U.S. achieved nothing.’’
Shehu noted that the Nigerian-US relations which had suffered severely over the past few years had now been restored.
He declared that the benefits of the symbiotic relationship between both contries would become more and more evident as the Buhari administration continues to tackle the challenges of corruption, insecurity and the economy.
He identified some of the immediate benefits of the trip to include the proposed 2.1 billion dollars fund from the World Bank for rebuilding of the North-East battered by Boko Haram and the five billion dollars from US investors in Nigeria’s agriculture sector.
Others included the1.5 billion dollars investment in the Nigerian health sector and another five billion dollars investment from the U.S. for the country’s power sector.
“Also, as things stand at the moment, the embargo on the sale of weapons sales to Nigeria is in the process of being removed.
“The trip to the U.S by President Buhari was definitely very successful and beneficial to Nigeria.
“Only those rabidly determined to find faults unnecessarily will cook up falsehood in a futile effort to rake up murk where none exists,’’ the statement concluded.