As a leader in the Senate, Godswill Akpabio should “immediately reject the plan by the Minister of the FCT, Nyesom Wike to spend N15 billion for the construction of ‘a befitting residence’ for the Vice President, Mr. Kashim Shettima,” according to the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP).

To reject the N2.8 billion on publicity for the FCTA and other wasteful and unnecessary spending that may be contained in the 2023 supplementary budget and the 2024 budget proposed by President Bola Tinubu, SERAP urged Akpabio to “assert Senate’s authority and constitutional oversight roles.”

The letter, which was signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare and dated 2 December 2023, stated that the organization believes that the vice president’s proposed spending of N15 billion on a “befitting residence” violates both the Nigerian Constitution and the country’s international human rights and anticorruption commitments.

To make sure that Mr. Wike’s planned expenditure is fully compatible with constitutional laws, including his oath of office, the Senate has the constitutional duty to do so, according to SERAP. Government officials are nevertheless held accountable by the law.

“The National Assembly, which includes the Senate, is obligated by the Constitution to resolve the nation’s debt crisis. One way to do this is to refuse to allocate funds that are both unnecessary and wasteful, which serves to enrich the private lives of public officials.”

Additionally, the organization emphasized that the National Assembly must not fail in its oversight responsibilities. The Senate has to prove its autonomy by discouraging the executive branch from spending money foolishly.

“The Senate’s decision to approve the plan to spend N15 billion on a ‘befitting residence’ for the vice president would be a serious breach of the public trust and the constitutional oath of office. This comes at a time when the federal government is projected to spend 30%, or N8.25 trillion, of the country’s 27.5 trillion Naira budget in 2024 on debt service costs.

In addition, the 2024 budget would be funded by the Federal Government borrowing N7.8 trillion. As of June, the total public debt of Nigeria was 87.4 trillion naira, with 38% of that amount due to commercial and multilateral lenders located outside of Nigeria.

If the Senate and its leadership do not curb excessive expenditure and limit government borrowing, SERAP will investigate possible legal measures to force the National Assembly, including the Senate, to fulfill its constitutional oversight responsibilities for the benefit of the public.

Please refer the allegations of corruption regarding the use of the previously authorized N7 billion to build a new home for the vice president to the EFCC and the ICPC, as SERAP strongly suggests.

Reportedly, the “construction” has been abandoned, but the fate of the N7 billion is still up in the air.

It is within the Senate’s constitutional authority and jurisdiction to ensure that Nigeria abides by its international commitments and the provisions of its constitution.

Given the government’s indiscriminate borrowing and the mounting financial problem, the Senate should exert its authority and firmly fulfill its constitutional oversight responsibilities to rein in Mr. Wike’s seemingly needless and wasteful expenditure.

Allowing the administration to spend the national budget to fulfill the comfort and lifestyle of public officials is a basic breach of the lawmakers’ fiduciary duty and a travesty.

“Public officials, including politicians, have a fiduciary duty to the general citizenry, and Nigerians have a right to expect them to be honest and faithful in their work.

“Removing the N15 billion allocated for ‘a befitting dwelling’ from the FTCA budget would promote effective, honest, and legal spending of public funds, which is in line with your constitutional oath of office and the text and spirit of the Nigerian Constitution.

The Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) and Minister of the FCT, Nysom Wike, intend to spend N15 billion on building ‘a befitting mansion’ for Vice President Kashim Shettima, as far as we are informed.

On Tuesday, President Bola Tinubu sent the N67 billion FCT supplementary budget to the National Assembly for approval, which includes the plan.

It has come to the attention of SERAP that Mr. Wike has proposed spending N15 billion on a new vice president’s house, even though the current vice president’s house was to be renovated with N2.5 billion in the federal government’s supplementary budget, which has already been approved by the National Assembly and signed by President Tinubu.

It has been reported that the idea to spend N15 billion on a “befitting residence” for the vice president has been authorized by the House of Representatives.

Additional funding of N3 billion has been authorized by the National Assembly to renovate the Lagos State house of the vice president. Additionally, Mr. Wike intends to allocate N2.8 billion on advertising the FCTA.

“The N100 billion for the FCT contained in the federal government supplementary budget is distinct from the proposed plan to spend 15 billion on ‘a befitting residence’ for the vice president.”

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