Nigeria

President Buhari proposes N5.23 billion to renovate presidential villa

For the first time since the inception of his government in 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday acknowledged how much petroleum subsidy had eroded national revenues, making it impossible for the country to adequately fund its annual budget, despite significant appreciation in crude oil prices. Buhari made the revelations in Abuja while presenting a N16.39 trillion Appropriation Bill for the 2022 fiscal year to a joint session of the National Assembly.

The Presidency has proposed N5.231,101,743 for general rehabilitation and repair of fixed assets in the Aso Rock Presidential Villa, Abuja in the 2022 Appropriation Bill submitted to a joint session of the National Assembly last week.

A study of the proposal showed that rehabilitation/repair of office buildings will gulp N5,176,045,297, while the residential building will take N55,056,446 out of the N150,590,609,934 expected to be spent by the Presidency.

In the 2021 proposal, N4,854,381,299 was set aside for the annual routine maintenance of mechanical/electrical installations in the Villa.

The ongoing construction of the presidential wing in the State House Medical Centre is expected to gulp N21,974,763,310.

According to the estimate, the ongoing phased replacement of vehicles and spares will cost N1.6bn compared to the N436m set aside for a similar purpose in the 2021 proposal.

About N180,089,000 is provided for the purchase of tyres for bulletproof vehicles, plain cars, CCU vehicles, platform trucks, jeeps, ambulances and other utility and operational vehicles.

Last year, N116,194,297 was set aside for a similar purpose.

The replacement of Villa telecommunication infrastructure will take N400,000,000.

The 2022 budget proposal also shows that President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo will spend N457,801,260 on foodstuff and catering materials as N301,138,860 and N156,662,400 has been set aside for the offices of president and the vice president.

About N938million will be spent on salaries and travel allowances of civil servants working in the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy in 2022, the estimates of the budget have shown.

This is from the N160.593billion total allocation to the ministry. Out of N160.5bn, N22.7bn was allotted to personnel cost, while overhead got N679.7m. About N137.2 will be expended on capital projects across the country.

However, the ministry’s headquarters got N85.2bn, out of which N938.179.428m will be spent on salaries and travel allowances of staff.

Staff salaries will gulp N898.1m while N40.1m will be spent on local and international travels by officials of the ministry.

Local travel and training got N17.8m, others got N17.5m, while international travels got N4.7m.

The federal government is to expend an additional N20bn on the ongoing second runway of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja in 2022.

The second runway, which is estimated to gulp N67bn, has been largely stalled due to poor funding.

It would be recalled that in the 2017 budget, N10bn was voted for the project, N8bn in 2018, N13bn in 2019 and N14bn in 2021.

The federal government also set aside N1.6bn to refund Bayelsa and Kebbi governments for the construction of airports at their respective states.

Also contained in the budget of the Ministry of Finance are N1bn for the installation of Category Three (CAT3) Instrument Landing System (ILS) and airfield lighting in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Katsina, Kano and other airports.

Education gets below UNESCO target

The federal government has voted N1.290tn for the education sector in the 2022 appropriation bill against the allotted N742bn in the 2021 budgetary allocation.

The N1.290tn for education is 7.9 per cent of the N16.3tn and the third-highest allocation for the year 2022, and yet, failed to meet the minimum of 15 to 20 per cent for developing countries’ as suggested by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

The allocation to health for next year at N711.285b is about 30 per cent higher than N549.82b in the current year.

The emphasis on this sector is hardly surprising after the devastation the sector experienced during the COVID-19 outbreak.

President Buhari said some of the activities that would be undertaken in this sector in 2022 included “critical health projects such as the strengthening of national emergency medical services and ambulance system, procurement of vaccines, polio eradication and upgrading primary health care centres across the six geopolitical zones.”

Meanwhile, the All Progressives Congress (APC) has said the 2022 budget is aimed at diversifying the country’s economy and strengthening security, among others.

The secretary of the APC Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, Senator John James Akpanudoedehe, said the budget also aimed at reducing poverty through targeted social investments and ultimately ensuring good governance.

The party urged the Assembly to speedily consider and pass the budget to meet the January-December cycle achieved by the Buhari-led administration.

However, the chairman, Senate Committee on Army, Ali Ndume, has described as “worrisome,” the decision of the federal government to borrow more funds to finance the 2022 budget.

The budget of N16.39trn presented on Thursday has a deficit of N6.26trn.

The Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, had said the government would source for more loans to fund the deficit.

Senator Ndume, in a statement yesterday noted that the government’s proposal to finance the budget by borrowing more was worrisome.

He, instead, advised the executive to cut down personal and recurrent costs, increase revenues and plug all leakages.

He also advised that the Presidential Economic Advisory Committee and finance experts should be actively involved in the debt management and re-evaluation of debt profiles.

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