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President Buhari ‘visits’ Nigeria; set to jet out again to 3 countries

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President Muhammadu Buhari has arrived Nigeria on Wednesday, February 10, 2016, after a 5-day vacation in the United kingdom.

President Muhammadu Buhari has arrived Nigeria on Wednesday, February 10, 2016, after a 5-day vacation in the United kingdom.

However, his return will be short-lived as he has concluded plans to visit 3 countries, viz:  Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

It could be recalled that Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, on Friday, 05 February, 2016, temporarily took over mantle of leadership when President Muhammadu Buhari went on 5 days vacation while in London.

Ekiti State governor, Ayodele Fayose has counselled President Muhammadu Buhari to stay at home and govern the country instead of junketing from one country to the other, saying; “foreign countries won’t solve our problems for us and the President’s foreign trips are already bleeding the economy with about $1 million being spent per trip.”

The governor, who said most of the trips embarked on by the President were unnecessary, added that ministers or at best the vice president could have been made to attend most of the functions being attended abroad by the President.

Mr. Buhari’s frequent foreign trips have drawn increasing criticism from politicians and pundits who question the wisdom of the trips at a time when several domestic crises, including a crushing fuel scarcity, incessant attacks by Boko Haram terrorists, and blackouts demand urgent and focused attention. 

Investigators reveal an average two-day long presidential trip costs between $350K and $500K. For instance, during Mr. Buhari’s recent trip to Tehran, the capital of Iran, the estacode for accompanying Presidency officials was $105K. In addition, transportation costs stood at $45K, accommodation 200K, honorarium $10K, contingency 20K, with media coverage costing $10K.

The breakdown for the last trip to Paris France is as follows: the estacode for accompanying Presidency officials is $130K, transportation $55K, accommodation $270K, honorarium $10K, contingency 20K, media coverage $10K. The total cost for the trip is $495K.

President Buhari has visisted South Africa, Kenya, Ethiopia, United Arab Emirates, Italy and Germany among others.

The South African trip followed immediately from Mr. Buhari’s visit to Paris, France. The cost of the trip South African is as follows: Estacode for accompanying Presidency officials $110K, transportation $35K, accommodation 220K, honorarium $10K, contingency 20K, and media coverage $10K, for a total of $405K

A source at the Presidential Air Fleet (PAF) said they have a separate budget for fueling the planes as well as allowances for the presidential air fleet commander, pilots and the air stewards. The Office of the National Security Adviser funds those expenses.

So, the costs uncovered by our investigators cover only personnel from Aso Rock Villa, aides, protocol officers, members of the press, security personnel, a cook, a luggage officer and a steward. The estacode did not reveal what President Buhari receives per night, as that expense is handled separately and secretly. In addition the Minister of Foreign Affairs and five members of his entourage who usually accompany President Buhari are not included in the costs as they get paid from the ministry’s budget.

The amounts for honorarium ($10K), contingency ($20K) and media coverage ($10K) are fixed for all trips. The State House Chief of Protocol handles honorarium and contingency while Femi Adesina, a senior assistant on media, handles $10K for “media coverage.” 

Critics have come down hard on President Buhari for engaging in international junkets at a time of rising disillusionment, with Nigeria mired in a crippling fuel scarcity, continuing violence by Boko Haram, and an economic downturn that has put pressures on banks and numerous businesses.

Mr. Buhari has only visited four Nigerian states since coming to power. His much-anticipated visit to Lagos three days ago to launch anti-crime helicopter, boats and vehicles did not materialize, but led to a traffic meltdown.

According to a statement issued in Ado-Ekiti by Fayose’s Special Assistant on Public Communications and New Media, Lere Olayinka, Governor Fayose said “the President should rather listen more to those of us who criticise him instead of those hailing every of his wrong steps either because of what they intend to gain or for fear of persecution.”

The statement read: “Conservatively, about $1 million goes into every of the foreign trips and the way the President is going, foreign trips alone might gulp 20 per cent of the Federal Government budget and that will be disastrous for the dwindling economy of the country.

“It is even more worrisome that while the economy is already in a shambles and insecurity pervades the land with Boko Haram burning Nigerians, including children alive in the North East, our President is busy globetrotting.”

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