By Gift ChapiOdekina, Abuja
Following public outcry over the allocation of N5.095 billion for the purchase of a presidential yacht in the 2023 supplementary budget, the House of Representatives, on Thursday, said it had scrapped the budgetary allocation.
Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, Abubakar Bichi, disclosed this in an interview with journalists on Thursday. He said the budgetary allocation for student loans was also increased from five billion to N10 billion.
He said the committee also increased the budgetary allocation of Ministry of Defence from N 476 billion to N546 billion.
Bichi also disclosed that the minimum wage for workers was considered and approved for onward transmission to the executive. He promised proper legislative oversight to ensure 100 per cent implementation.
The yacht budget
In the supplementary budget sent to the National Assembly by the President, the Federal Government had allocated N5 billion to purchase a presidential yacht.
The proposed sum was under the capital expenditure of the Nigerian Navy’s budget.
According to the breakdown, the Navy will require N62.8 billion for its operations, with recurrent expenditure and capital expenditure gulping N20.4 billion and N42.3 billion, respectively
But Bichi said the five billion naira for the presidential yacht has been yanked off from the budget.
He said: “Actually We have submitted our reports to the House and after careful consideration, the House has approved our submissions and the breakdown is as follows:
“As you know, the budget is about N2.1 trillion and the Ministry of Defence has about N456bn but currently the Ministry of Defence has the largest share because we know how important our security is. As you are aware, we had interactions with them yesterday. Currently, we have increased their budget from N456 billion to N546,209,099,671 billion.
“For Police formation and command, we gave them N50bn while the FCT has about N100bn. You know FCT is very important to us, so we want to make sure that FCT can compete with any state in the world. That is why we gave them N100bn.
“On the Office of National Security, their initial budget was N27bn but currently we have increased it to N50bn. For the state house, their initial budget was N28bn and we maintained that.
“On Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, you know how important that ministry is. We maintained their initial figure of N200bn as well. For the Ministry of Housing, you know we have a serious housing deficit in the country and Mr President’s agenda, he wants to build as much as he can, so we have approved N100bn for housing.
“Service-wide votes initially was N615 but currently we reduced to N515bn.
“For INEC, initially their budget was N18bn, and yesterday we had an interaction with the INEC Chairman and he convinced us with his submissions and we maintained their N18bn.
“So far, we have approved N2,176,791,286,33. We will continue to support the government so we can deliver democracy.
On the presidential yacht, Bichi said: “Actually, as far we are concerned, we don’t have that anymore. We have increased the student loan.
“Initially, student loan was N5bn in the budget but we have increased it by N5bn so that our students can access that facility in order for them to go to school. We don’t have the yacht anymore in budget.”
He assured that lawmakers would ensure adequate oversight over the way the funds are spent.
He added: “Our members, especially those standing committees, oversight those projects and ensure the money is used judiciously. From now till three months time, we are going to call them and ask them what they have done with the money.”