The Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume (APC, Borno South), has said the N5 billion proposed for the purchase of a Presidential Yacht, in the 2023 supplementary budget, has since been delivered in anticipation for payment but that payment hasn’t been made.
Ndume said this when he appeared as a guest on the AriseNews’ breakfast show, ‘The Morning Show’ on Friday.
The Senate Chief Whip explained that the National Assembly felt the money could be put to better use. This, he said, informed the decision to add it to the student loan component of the 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 on about N435 (to a Dollar), 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 Students loan. The deal for the yacht has been agreed, signed, and delivered but not paid for,” the lawmaker said.
It can be recalled that the 2023 Supplementary Budget was approved by the joint Appropriations Committees of the Senate and House of Representatives, on Thursday.
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The N5billion budgeted for the purchase of a Presidential yacht attracted public outrage when it was made public in various media reports after a careful scrutiny of the budget proposal.
In defence of the President, the Presidency issued a statement signed by the President’s Special Adviser on Information and Strategy, Bayo Onanuga, in which it stated that it was an operational boat required for special operations by the Nigerian Navy.
He explained that the item named ‘Presidential Yacht’ as found in the 2023 Supplementary Appropriation Bill was not for the personal use of President Bola Tinubu.
Onanuga added, “What was named as a presidential yacht in the budget is an operational Naval boat with specialised security gadgets suitable for high profile operational inspection and not for the use of the President.”