The Chief Whip of the Senate, Ali Ndume, has confirmed that Presidential yacht, said to be worth about N5 billion, had been delivered to Nigeria before public outcry.
Nigerians had criticized the budget for the yacht after a copy of the expenditures proposed in the 2023 supplementary budget the President submitted to the National Assembly for approval surfaced online.
Speaking with Arise TV on Friday, Ndume said the presidential yacht had been signed and delivered but not paid for before the public outcry, adding that the Senate has since added the required payment fee to the student loan budget.
“The Navy also clarified that it is not a new budget. And even the House of Representatives moved the budget to the Student loan. The deal for the yacht has been agreed, signed, and delivered but not paid for.”
Ndume also defended the N160m Land Cruiser SUV bought for each lawmaker in the National Assembly.
The Chief Whip stressed that it is not a new thing for government workers to be buying vehicles for official duties.
“I prefer Nigerian-made products, but the Nigerian car companies are only buying the vehicle parts and assembling them here.
He maintained that the reason for the SUVs is because most Nigerian roads are not motorable, adding that these vehicles are the only ones that could help them carry out their oversight functions.
Meanwhile, the Presidency had also clarified the controversy about the presidential yacht.
Special Adviser to the President on Information and Strategy, Bayo Onanuga, explained in a statement on Thursday evening that the item named ‘Presidential Yacht’ as found in the 2023 Supplementary Appropriation Bill is not for President Bola Tinubu’s personal use.
He clarified that the yacht belongs to Nigerian Navy but bears such classification “because of the high-level security features.”
“What was named as a presidential yacht in the budget is an operational Naval boat with specialized security gadgets suitable for high profile operational inspection and not for the use of the President,” Onanuga stated.