Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked the Senate president, Godswill Akpabio, to reject a proposal by the Minister of the FCT, Nyesom Wike, to spend N15 billion for the construction of a befitting residence’ for the Vice President, Kashim Shettima.
In addition, SERAP urged him to affirm the Senate’s authority and constitutional responsibilities by rejecting the N2.8 billion allocated for publicity in the FCTA, as well as other potentially wasteful expenditures in the 2023 supplementary budget and the 2024 budget proposed by President Bola Tinubu.
In the letter dated 2 December 2023 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said:
- “The plan to spend N15 billion on ‘a befitting residence’ for the vice president is a fundamental breach of the Nigerian Constitution and the country’s international anticorruption and human rights obligations.
- “The Senate has the constitutional duties to ensure that Mr. Wike’s proposed spending is entirely consistent and compatible with constitutional provisions including his oath of office. All public officials remain subject to the rule of law.”
NASS should address Public Debt
According to SERAP, the national assembly has the constitutional right and duty to address the country’s debt crisis, including by rejecting wasteful and unnecessary spending to satisfy the personal comfort and lifestyles of public officials.
The legal body also noted that they would consider appropriate legal action to compel the National Assembly including the Senate to fulfill its responsibilities to mitigate against wasteful excesses from the federal government and public officials.
The letter continued,
- “The National Assembly cannot continue to fail to fulfil its oversight function. The Senate must assert and demonstrate its independence by checking and rejecting all wasteful and unnecessary spending by the executive.
- “The Federal Government also plans to borrow N7.8 trillion to fund the 2024 budget. Nigeria’s public debt stood at 87.4 trillion naira as of June with 38% owed to external creditors including multilateral and commercial lenders.
- “Should the Senate and its leadership fail to stop wasteful and unnecessary spending and rein in government borrowing, SERAP would consider appropriate legal action to compel the National Assembly including the Senate to discharge its constitutional oversight roles in the public interest.”
Furthermore, the organization added that the Senate should collaborate with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Source Offences Commission (ICPC) to investigate the previous N7 billion allocations meant for the construction of the former vice president, Yemi Osinbajo.
- “SERAP urges you to refer to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Source Offences Commission (ICPC) the allegations of corruption in the spending of the previously approved N7 billion for the construction of a new residence for the vice president.
- “The ‘construction’ was reportedly abandoned but the whereabouts of the N7 billion remain unknown,” the letter added.
What you should know
Earlier, the Minister of FCT, Nyesom Wike, proposed N15 billion worth of construction for a new residence for the vice president, Kashim Shettima.
He disclosed this on Wednesday when he appeared before a House of Representatives committee to defend the FCT N61.5 billion 2023 supplementary budget.
Wike told the lawmakers that the construction of a new residence for the vice president was approved in 2010 by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) at the cost of N7 billion, but that the project was abandoned.
He said an Initial sum of N5 billion has been earmarked in the FCT supplementary budget to get the project underway.