Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has called upon Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, to refuse the proposed N15 billion budgeted for constructing a new residence for Vice President Kashim Shettima, stated in the Federal Capital Territory’s (FCT) supplementary budget.
The organisation said that the planned expenditure contradicts the Nigerian Constitution and the country’s global commitments against corruption and in support of human rights. According to SERAP’s Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the Senate bears the responsibility to ensure the spending aligns with constitutional mandates and that all public officials are bound by the rule of law.
SERAP’s recent letter to the Senate President highlighted the Senate’s crucial role in managing the country’s mounting debt crisis. The organization urged the Senate to refrain from approving any wasteful or unnecessary expenses aimed at indulging public officials’ personal comforts or lifestyles.
The group underscored the Senate’s vital oversight responsibility to address Nigeria’s debt situation, especially when the 2024 budget designates 30% (N8.25 trillion) for debt service costs, with a planned borrowing of N7.8 trillion. The country’s public debt had reached 87.4 trillion naira by June, with 38% owed to external lenders, including multilateral and commercial creditors.
Should the Senate fail to curb unjustified expenditures and oversee government borrowing, SERAP expressed its readiness to pursue legal actions to ensure the National Assembly, including the Senate, fulfils its constitutional obligations for public interest.
The organisation further urged the Senate President to refer the alleged corruption in the previously approved N7 billion for a vice president’s residence construction to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Source Offences Commission (ICPC). The construction was reportedly abandoned, while the whereabouts of the N7 billion remain undisclosed.
According to SERAP, the proposed N15 billion spending on a new residence for the vice president, apart from the N2.5 billion allocated for the residence renovation in the federal government’s supplementary budget, is unreasonable. The House of Representatives has reportedly approved the N15 billion plan, along with another N3 billion for the vice president’s residence in Lagos State. Additionally, Nysom Wike, the Minister of FCT, aims to spend N2.8 billion on FCTA publicity.
SERAP emphasised the Senate’s role in preventing the use of the national budget for fulfilling personal comforts of public officials, urging the Senate President to adhere to the Nigerian Constitution and promote honest and lawful expenditure of public funds.
The organisation is vigilant about the Senate’s actions regarding the supplementary budget and intends to ensure compliance with constitutional obligations and prudent public spending.