Recent reports indicated that the last trip of President Muhammadu Buhari and his entourage to the United States cost the nation’s tax payers and the nation gargantuan amount of money. A whopping sum of N2.2 billion was said to have been expended on the trip to take care of the over blotted retinue of aides and state governors who followed the president.
The rage that followed the reported action by the Buhari government that preaches accountability and frugality was inflamed by previous claims by the Buhari administration that it inherited an empty treasury from the Goodluck Jonathan’s administration. What are the benefits of the trip that gulped such a huge cost? Many Nigerians ask!
Some eminent Nigerians have slammed President Buhari over the bogus expenditure in a 4-day trip. For instance, prominent politician and Second Republic governor of old Kaduna State, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, described the trip as a jamboree that will not yield any positive outcome. He observed that previous trips by former governments in the country did not yield any positive outcome from the American government.
According to Balarabe Musa, Nigerians should know that the pursuit for assistance to end terrorism, repatriation of stolen monies and trade relationship which are key issues talked about by President Buhari and the American President, Barack Obama have been existing for a very long time but nothing has been achieved. He said instead, Nigeria should get its house in order first before approaching foreigners for support.
Similarly, a legal expert and Human Right Activist, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, also criticised the N2.2 billion spent by Buhari on the US trip adding that it has made nonsense of the administration’s war against corruption. “The war against corruption is becoming meaningless in a regime that is spending a whopping N2.3bn just on a single trip to the United States of America. I advise the Buhari administration to settle down to the business of serious governance, name his cabinet and give Nigeria a true sense of direction, as contained in his campaign promises, rather than chasing shadows and running a government of excuses and propaganda”.
Some analysts have computed the N2.2billion US trip cost, divided it by the 50 persons on the presidential entourage and arrived at an average NGN40 million per person for 96 hours, minus cost of transportation but including subsidized feeding as guests of America.
While we are not averse to a president or new government seeking foreign relationships and global partners to solve or enrich its socio-economic and political aspirations, we caution the manner in which taxpayers’ monies are being expended in reckless abandon as typified by the recent US trip.
First of all, we fault the entourage comprising of many governors who ordinarily have no business in that trip. Again we are concerned that if such whopping sums are deployed in trips, the 50 percent salary cuts by the President,his Vice and other political office holders who volunteered such goodwill are inconsequential and of no moral value since they can make up a thousand times from travelling allowances.
It is morally incriminating and it is not cost effective for an administration that revels in self advertising about cutting down cost of governance to embark on such a jamboree. It is even more worrisome that the Buhari administration has not responded to the public outcries concerning this early signs of profligacy.