May 19, 2024

The Eye Of Africa

Tinubu’s $507,384 hotel bill causes uproar after FG aims to borrow $1.5 billion from World Bank

3 min read
President Tinubu

President Tinubu

Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy Wale Edun, shared this at the 2023 Annual Meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Marrakech, Morocco.

Edun said the loan aimed at supporting the budget, comes with minimal interest rates, promoting the economic recovery and attracting both domestic and foreign investments.

This is coming weeks after the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), where President Bola Tinubu spent a substantial $507,384 of taxpayers’ money in hotel accommodations.

A memo signed by the permanent secretary of the state house Adebiyi O. Olufunso, dated September 11, 2023, revealed that $422,820 (N325.5 million) was allocated for rooms at the St. Regis Hotel in New York from September 16 to 23, covering Tinubu and his close aides.

An additional $84,564 (65.1 million Naira), constituting 20 per cent of the reservation cost, was allocated for incidentals.

While specifics about the incidentals were not outlined in the memo which was first published by Peoples Gazette, they typically cover extra services and amenities not included in room rates.

At the current exchange rate, this amounts to a total of N390,690,753.

The memo, titled ‘Re: Mr. President’s Participation at the 7th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), New York from 17th-23rd September 2023’, sought the president’s approval for the Federal Ministry of Finance Budget, and National and Office of the Accountant General of the Federation to process the payment.

The second page of the memo bore the endorsement “Payment authorised as requested,” indicating president Tinubu’s approval.

According to the memo, the fund was to be made from the 15 per cent Wheat Grain Levy Pool Account, an account opened in 2012 to hold receipts of the import levy imposed by the Jonathan administration to discourage wheat importation and encourage local production of cassava flour.

Public interest and human rights lawyer Inibeh Effiong, reacting to the expenditure, said, “Almost $500,000 spent for hotels and other extravagant purposes for Nigeria to be represented at the recent United Nations General Assembly Meeting in New York.

“This says a lot about the claims that Nigeria is broke and that citizens need to endure and suffer. Nigeria is not poor, we have a spending problem. We have a kleptomaniac and heartless political class.”

Award-winning controversial investigative journalist David Hundeyin added: “Civil services around the world – even in supposedly ‘democratic’ countries – are far too opaque and unavailable for public scrutiny for them to be the central institution in any kind of ‘open society.’

“This needs to change immediately, and the technology already exists. If JP Morgan, which does between $3trn and $5trn worth of transactions everyday can present Jamie Dimon with full visibility over every cent in real time on his computer screen, there is no reason why a civil service controlling a total annual budget of about $30bn somehow cannot do the same.”

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