The Chief Whip of the Senate, Ali Ndume, has clarified the issue bordering on the controversial Presidential yacht said to be worth about N5 billion.
Ndume made this clarification while speaking on the review of the supplementary budget on Arise Television’s Morning show on Friday.
The All Progressives Congress Senator representing Borno South said the presidential yacht had been signed and delivered but not paid for before the public outcry, adding that the Senate has since added the required payment fee to the student loan budget.
Ndume said, “We queried the amount budgeted for the yacht, but it was signed for a dollar rate, and the new rate isn’t favourable. The budget was predicated for about N435, and now it is over N800.
“The Navy also clarified that it is not a new budget. And even the House of Representatives moved the budget to the Student loan. The deal for the yacht has been agreed, signed, and delivered but not paid for.”
Speaking on the N160m for Land Cruiser SUV for each lawmaker in the National Assembly, the Chief Whip stressed that it is not a new thing for government workers to be buying vehicles for official duties.
He maintained that the price of the vehicles was also affected by the volatility of the naira to dollar rate, adding that the vehicles are needed for the lawmakers.
“The reason why we did not choose Nigerian-made cars is because they don’t manufacture their vehicles, but they assemble them.
“I prefer Nigerian-made products, but the Nigerian car companies are only buying the vehicle parts and assembling them here.
He maintained that the reason for the SUVs is because most Nigerian roads are not motorable, adding that these vehicles are the only ones that could help them carry out their oversight functions.
Recall that an earlier report noted that Nigerians condemned a part of the expenditures proposed in the 2023 supplementary budget the President submitted to the National Assembly for approval, including a proposal to spend N5.095 billion on a presidential yacht.
Reacting, the Presidency said the item named ‘Presidential Yacht’ as found in the 2023 Supplementary Appropriation Bill is not for President Bola Tinubu’s personal use.
This was, as it said, the naval boat bears such classification “because of the high-level security features.”
“What was named as a presidential yacht in the budget is an operational Naval boat with specialized security gadgets suitable for high profile operational inspection and not for the use of the President,” Special Adviser to the President on Information and Strategy, Bayo Onanuga, explained in a statement on Thursday evening.