The Presidency has debunked a report by the Nigerian Pilot newspaper which estimated the cost of President Muhammadu Buhari’s recent visit to the United States at over 2 billion naira.
The President’s spokesman, Mallam Garba Shehu, in a statement issued in Abuja on Wednesday took a swipe at the report, and expressed his dismay that “a media organisation would make itself available as a vehicle to peddle a lie of such low and ignominious quality.”
Shehu said the total cost of the trip to the Nigerian taxpayer was at the most minimal and in line with the policy of the All Progressives Congress-led administration to cut waste and extravagance.
He explained that even the President’s son who was on the trip was neither paid allowances nor estacode while the five governors, who were also on the trip financed themselves.
The Permanent Secretaries who traveled on the delegation, he said, did so in accordance with extant rules and none of them exceeded their estacode entitlements.
Shehu said: “Our attention has been drawn to an editorial published in the Nigerian Pilot of August 2, 2015 and an earlier report in which the total cost of President Muhammadu Buhari’s recent trip to the U.S. was estimated at N2.2 billion.
“It is very sad that in this age of free-flowing information and in this era of CHANGE, a media organisation would make itself available as a vehicle to peddle a lie of such low and ignominious quality.
“Contrary to the newspaper’s assertions, the total cost of the trip to the Nigerian taxpayer was at the most minimal, in line with the policy of this administration to cut waste and extravagance.
“In point of fact, the total amount expended on the trip by the Office of the President amounted to nothing near ten per cent of the speculated figure.
“Owing to the free accommodation provided by the host government, all the personal staff who accompanied the President on the trip received reduced allowances.
“His son, Yusuf, received neither allowances nor estacode.
“The five governors on the trip each paid his own way. Permanent Secretaries who traveled on the delegation did so in accordance with extant rules and none of them exceeded their estacode entitlements.
“Apart from the Nigerian Pilot’s mischievous mathematics, it is shortsighted and misleading of the newspaper to have claimed that President Buhari’s trip to the U.S. achieved nothing.’’
The statement stated that, contrary to the newspaper report, the trip achieved tremendous success and benefits for Nigeria.
These benefits, it said, included the restoration of strained relations between Nigeria and the US, which had severely suufferred in the years’s preceding the coming to office of the Buhari administration.
According to the statement, other benefits of the trip are the proposed 2.1 billion dollars fund from the World Bank for rebuilding of the North-East which has been battered by Boko Haram insurgency and the five billion dollars from US investors in Nigeria’s agriculture sector.
Also included as benefits, it said, are the 1.5 billion dollars investment in the Nigerian health sector and another five billion dollars investment from the U.S. for the country’s power sector.
“The benefits of the symbiotic relationship between both countries would become more and more evident as the Buhari administration continues to tackle the challenges of corruption, insecurity and the economy,” it said.
The statement further disclosed that the plans by the US to lift the embargo on the sale of weapons to Nigeria was secured during the President’s visit.
It added that, “only those rabidly determined to find faults unnecessarily will cook up falsehood in a futile effort to rake up murk where none exists.’’