Tope Ajayi, a spokesperson for President Bola Tinubu, clarified that the President had not sought a presidential yacht, dispelling the controversy surrounding the recently published details of the N2.1 trillion supplementary budget submitted to the National Assembly.
The supplementary budget included allocations of N5.09 billion for a yacht, N2.9 billion for sport utility vehicles for the Presidential Villa, and another N2.9 billion for replacing operational vehicles for the presidency.
The provision for the yacht was listed under the Nigerian Navy’s proposed capital expenditure of N42.3 billion. In response to this, Ajayi expressed doubt about President Tinubu’s need for such an item to fulfill his duties.
He pointed out that the request for a yacht, regardless of how it is worded in the budget, was made by the Navy, likely for operational reasons. Ajayi suggested that the budget office should provide a more detailed explanation to the public regarding the necessity of such expenditures, particularly given the country’s economic situation.
Ajayi also highlighted a recurring issue with budget descriptions, where certain line items are oversimplified, causing public confusion. He cited a past instance in 2016 when a Ministry of Solid Minerals project worth over N300 million was described in the budget as a “website,” which generated controversy.
Furthermore, Ajayi emphasized the importance of responsible journalism, stating that reporting should contribute to public understanding rather than create a sense of siege. He criticized the tendency to attribute all State House budget provisions to the President and Vice President, pointing out that such allocations cover numerous state events, meetings, VIP hosting, foreign dignitary visits, and other official functions.
In conclusion, he noted that a President and Vice President could not reasonably consume N20 million worth of food in a year, as such budgetary provisions also cater to a wide range of state-related activities and diplomatic functions that the State House manages throughout the year.