President Jonathan’s Multi-million dollar jamboree in Canada

Goodluck arriving in TorontoNigeria is only an invitee to the Club of G-20 meeting holding in Toronto, yet President Jonathan Goodluck travelled to Canada with a delegation of 140 men plus women. Some Nigerians wonder ask: why so many people? Are they all desperate to get out of town?

The Centre for Responsive Government a few minutes ago raised an alarm. It says the initial cost to Nigerian tax payers is $3.5 million dollars for a few days of sojourn and hype to Canada. This amount may rise when the final calculation is determined “says its leader, Dr Okechukwu Elonu .

He pointed out that an entire floor of a five-star hotel was booked for the visiting Nigerian delegation. Their meals and accommodations were fully and expeditiously paid up front. Expensive Limos were rented for transportation around town.

Observers say the trip may cost the Nigerian Tax payer 10 million dollars in over-head alone but Presidency insiders suggest 10 billion naira may have been budgeted for the trip.

The question on the lips of askance Nigerians is: on whose account is all this vast expenditure? Why are Nigerian leaders not prudent with Nigeria’s money? With the present harsh economic/social realities glaring on their faces, the extravagance of this spending is mind-boggling.

Many Nigerians resident In Canada were eager to hear Jonathan speak to them at the reception …but still, at what cost?

Saharareporters had exposed the vast size of President Goodluck Jonathan’s 140 delegations to Canada, the monumental waste of public funds in embarking on the jamboree.

The presidency has tried to discredit their reports. The presidential spokesman Mr. Ima Niboro issued a statement claiming that the president, who is currently in Toronto, Canada, only traveled with 32 delegates to the G8 conference in Muskoka, near Toronto. That is propaganda, as it is only one-fifth of the truth. 

The so-called 32-man delegation of officials that President Jonathan’s spokesman claimed comprised the delegation is made up of 32 persons, led by President Jonathan and his wife, Patience.  It also includes Governors Olagunsoye Oyinlola of Osun and Dambaba Suntai of Taraba; one of the wives of the Senate president, Mrs. Helen Mark; and the president’s personal doctor, Fortune Fiberesima.  Others in the president’s party include Ima Niboro, Dora Akunyili, Moses Jituboh, Loveday Barasin, Yah’ya Shuaib, the president’s ADC, Lt. Colonel Ojogbane Adegbe, and MOSOP president, Ledun Mitee.

According to Saharareporters, What Mr. Niboro did not say is that the delegation to Muskoka also had a 40-strong “Advance Party” which left Nigeria ahead of Mr. Jonathan, led by Bridget Iroh Enyinnaya of the Protocol Department.

Also on Mr. Jonathan’s voyage was a seven–member “Recce Team” led by Victor Adeleke, also of the Protocol unit in the presidency.  That group travelled by commercial flight to Canada prior to the arrival of the 32-member “Presidential Delegation” referred to in Mr. Niboro’s press release.

In addition to these different groups, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs also sent a 15-man advance party to travel with the president led by Ambassador Hart.

Finally, the presidency also has in tow some 30 crewmembers from the presidential air fleet.  That is enough to fly three jets to Canada and ultimately London where SR have reported, Jonathan jumbo-gravy train will be joined by another 120 lucky people from Nigeria. 

Of great interest in the great “Canadian conquest” delegation is the vast numbers of personal assistants.  The First Lady is travelling in style, with an armada of at least 10 personal assistants, including a photographer as well as television crew from NTA.  These are in addition to the presence of her own ADC, Director of Protocol, and personal doctor, among others. 

One member of the Advance Party, like Mr. Jonathan, travelled with his spouse.  There are also journalists from the AIT, VOA (Hausa Service), The Guardian, Daily Independent and the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN). NTA has at least four journalists on the trip.

Nigeria was invited by the Canadian government among seven African countries to observe the G8 conference.  Nigeria also intends to attend the G20, where Jonathan has made a showing of Nigeria’s need for foreign investment.

SR reported from Muskoka, however, that Mr. Jonathan is only allowed to go to the G8 with six officials because Muskoka is a small resort town that has limited capacity, coupled with the tight security surrounding the summit venue. 

Jonathan government should desist from the same culture of deception, secrecy and waste that characterized its predecessor. Obviously the trip to Canada is an advert for conspicuous official consumption, waste and patronage.  The planes bound for Canada were loaded with people who had no business on board or on the soil of Canada besides squandering Nigeria’s resources.