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Friday, October 12, 2012

N2.6 billion naira to be spent on the upgrading and maintenance of the presidential villa

The Presidency plans to spend over N2.8 billion to “rehabilitate and repair” residential buildings for the President, the Vice President and their entourages next year – going by details of the budget.

Besides, the Presidency estimates that it will spend N733,893,900 on refreshments and meals, foodstuff and catering materials supplies for both the president and the vice president, according to a document stating the ABC of the budget.

The Presidency, comprising the offices of the president and the vice president, intends to spend N2.96 billion on local and international travels next year.

Under the capital expenditure of the Presidency, the Villa, as it is popularly known in Abuja, the capital city has proposed to spend N2,879,000,000 on residential buildings.

A breakdown of the expenditure shows that N2.6 billion is to be spent on the upgrading and maintenance of Villa facilities. No details were given as to which facilities the cash will be spent on.
About N120,000,000 will be spent to model the new guest house at 41, Yakubu Gowon Crescent, Asokoro for the Vice President. Besides, N120,000,000 will be spent on the completion of the rehabilitation of security quarters at Mpape Artillery, Asokoro.

Just like last year, the Presidency plans to spend N10 million to rehabilitate the presidential and ministerial chalet at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport Abuja, N89 million will be spent to rehabilitate the State House Medical Centre (SHMC) service quarters and N30 million for the SHMC infrastructure.
On food stuff and refreshments for the Villa, there was a slight reduction in the figures for 2013. The President’s food stuff and catering materials supply is to cost N294,238,969. The Vice President’s is estimated to cost N112,500,000.

For refreshments and meals, the President wants to spend N203,752,432 while the Vice President is asking for N123,402,499.
The vice president wants an additional N40,784,248 in 2013 for the printing of non-security documents.

According to the details of the 2013 budget figures reporters stumbled on last night, the President plans to spend N1,289,624,428 on his foreign travels and N1,035,319,145 on local travels. The Vice President is seeking for N387,219,988 for international travels and N249,775,990 for local travels.
A simple but symbolic task of budget presentation by the President has become the subject of a big row between the executive and the legislature.

The Presidency responded with anger yesterday to what it described as scathing remarks by the Senate President David Mark and House Speaker Aminu Tambuwal during the presentation of the 2013 budget estimate by President Goodluck Jonathan to a joint session of the National Assembly on Wednesday.

Mark, after the presentation, described the budget proposal as mere estimates and warned the President not to expect the National Assembly to rubber stamp the document.
Tambuwal criticised the executive for the poor implementation of this year’s budget, stressing that the assessment by members of the House was not impressive.

Apparently miffed by the reaction of the leaders of the legislature, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs Dr. Doyin Okupe, decried what he described as “unfair treatment of the President” by Mark and Tambuwal.

Addressing reporters in Abuja yesterday, Okupe took exceptions to Mark’s description of the budget as “mere estimates”, saying the Senate President was derisive in his remarks.
According to him, the budget, as presented by the President, is a product of rational thinking and not mere estimates, as Mark stated.

“In a democracy, there is useful idea about deliberations, until useful conclusions are reached. Referring to the budget as mere estimates is unfair and does not speak well of the entire process.
“President Jonathan and his administration do not see the National Assembly as a rubber stamp. The President does not expect the National Assembly to be a rubber stamp,” Okupe said.
The President’s aide faulted the Speaker’s non performance verdict on the 2012 budget, saying the document was signed into law only in April and that there was no way the budget could have done better under the circumstance.

Okupe maintained that despite the late signing of the 2012 budget, the executive has released N711 .6 billion for capital projects to the various MDAs.

This, he said, represents 53 per cent of capital release in just six months into the life of the budget.
The aide disagreed with Tambuwal over inadequate release of funds to the MDAs, saying that many of them did not utilise a substantial chunk of their quarterly budgets. There is no sense in releasing more money to them when they did not exhaust the previous one.

“The Speaker should know that the era of releasing funds without due process is over and government cannot continue to play Father Xmas with budgetary allocations,” Okupe said.
He described the move by the legislature to fix the budget benchmark at $80 per barrel for the 2013 budget as uncalled for.

Citing other oil producing countries, such as Algeria, Angola, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia where the benchmark is far below the $75 proposed by the federal executive, Okupe said the $80 benchmark proposed by the legislature was unrealistic.
Okupe accused Tambuwal of being dictatorial and over authoritative, saying that the National Assembly and its leadership should not be seen to be playing to the gallery.


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