The All Progressives Congress (APC) has commended President Muhammadu Buhari’s approval of the immediate implementation of cost saving measures aimed at instilling financial discipline and prudence; but the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) thinks the measures are not far-reaching enough, wondering why the President still maintains the Presidential Air fleet he promised to collapse, and appointed aides for his wife’s office.
The APC welcomed the presidential directive to ministers and other heads of government agencies to suspend foreign travels and defend their budgets before the National Assembly. This will not only foster legislative-executive relations but also ensure that budget passage is speedy and returned to the January-December cycle.
Said the ruling party, in a statement by Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, the party’s National Publicity Secretary, “This is another fulfillment of the president’s election promise to cut the costs of governance, curb leakages, end impunity and ensure adherence to the rule of law by all departments of government.
“To list a few of the approved measures to instill financial discipline and prudence on government trips, all public funded trips must be strictly for official purposes and must be backed with documented evidence.
“The classes of tickets approved for government officials on official trips have been clearly spelt out. In effect, Ministers, Permanent Secretaries, Special Advisers, Senior Special Assistants to the President, Chairmen of Extra-Ministerial Departments and Chief Executive Officers of Parastatals are allowed to fly Business Class. Other categories of Public Officers are to travel on Economy Class.”
But the PDP challenged the President to lead by example by ending the profligacy that pervades his Presidency in order to give validity to his directives to ministers and other functionaries.
The party tasked the Presidency to explain the basis and source of Presidential support for the Office of the First Lady, including the appointment of aides, contrary to his promise not to run that office
“While the PDP is still monitoring the implementation of directive to government functionaries on cost cut, the party tasks President Buhari to take the first step by immediately fulfilling his promise to reduce the Presidential fleet, as well as cut his over bloated entourages and curtail the opulent lifestyle in the Presidency, which is daily flaunted before suffering and impoverished Nigerians.
“The PDP invites Nigerians to note that the Buhari Presidency has proven to be extremely expensive and a major draining pipe for valuable resources, while millions of compatriots, who look up to government for solutions, wallow in hunger and acute poverty,” the statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan said.
APC noted that government will no longer fund extended stays, while duration of official trips is limited to only the number of days of the event as contained in the supporting documents to qualify for public funding.
“Clearly, the era of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)’s governments when ministers and other senior government appointees splashed our commonwealth on private jet trips, first class tickets and limousines to ferry family and cronies around are over. Our public resources are now being rightly deployed to address our national infrastructure needs, social investments and other initiatives that directly benefits the people, the APC added.
However, the PDP alleges that the profligacy that permeates the Presidency further manifested in the public fight between the First Lady, Aisha Buhari, and President Buhari’s nephews over issues of opulent accommodation in our presidential villa.
The party noted that the Buhari Presidency has failed to make the details of its budget public, despite demands by our party and other well-meaning groups in Nigeria.
“The failure to make the details of the Presidency budget public places a huge burden on the Buhari Presidency, particularly in the face of allegations of budgetary corruption and financial sleazes.
“Unless the Presidency budget is made public for Nigerians to see, any directive on cost cut remains cosmetic,” PDP said.