The Presidency Tuesday night declared that the N2.2 billion reported as the total cost of President Muhammadu Buhari’s recent trip to the U.S. was grossly exaggerated.
A statement by the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said that the cost was most minimal in line with the Government’s policy to cut waste and extravagance.
According to him, it was not up to 10 percent of the speculated figure.
The statement reads: “Our attention has been drawn to an editorial published in the Nigerian Pilot of August 2, 2015 and an earlier report in which the total cost of President Muhammadu Buhari’s recent trip to the U.S. was estimated at N2.2 billion.
“It is very sad that in this age of free-flowing information and in this era of CHANGE, a media organisation would make itself available as a vehicle to peddle a lie of such low and ignominious quality.
“Contrary to the newspaper’s assertions, the total cost of the trip to the Nigerian taxpayer was at the most minimal, in line with the policy of this administration to cut waste and extravagance.
“In point of fact, the total amount expended on the trip by the office of the President amounted to nothing near ten per cent of the speculated figure.
Due to the free accommodation provided by the host government, he said that all the personal staff who accompanied the President on the trip received reduced allowances.
Continuing, he said: “His son, Yusuf, received neither allowances nor estacode. The five Governors on the trip each paid his own way. Permanent Secretaries who traveled on the delegation did so in accordance with extant rules and none of them exceeded their estacode entitlements.
“Apart from the Nigerian Pilot’s mischievous mathematics, it is shortsighted and misleading of the newspaper to have claimed that President Buhari’s trip to the U.S. achieved nothing.
“Nigerian-US relations had suffered severely over the past few years. That relationship has now been reset. The benefits of this symbiotic relationship will become more and more evident as the Buhari administration continues to tackle the challenges of corruption, security and the economy.
Listing some of the benefits of the trip, he said: “Some of the more immediate benefits of the President’s trip to the U.S include: the proposed $2.1 billion fund from the World Bank for the re-development of the northeast battered by Boko Haram; $5 billion from US investors in Nigeria’s agriculture sector; $1.5 billion investment in the Nigerian health sector; and another $5 billion investment from the U.S. in our country’s power sector.
“Also, as things stand at the moment, the embargo on the sale of weapons sales to Nigeria is in the process of being removed.
“The trip to the U.S by President Buhari was definitely very successful and beneficial to Nigeria.
“Only those rapidly determined to find faults unnecessarily will cook up falsehood in a futile effort to rake up murk where none exists,” he stated.