Aso Rock on Wednesday disputed a newspaper editorial that claimed President Buhari’s recent trip to the United States cost Nigerian tax-payers a whopping N2.2billion.
A press statement issued by his spokesman, Garba Shehu, said such media report was not only false but mischievous.
Shehu said the visit, in fact, showcased the President’s desire to cut waste in government spending as the Villa did not even spend up to a tenth of the amount bandied by the national newspaper.
He pointed out that, on the other hand, the visit brought many goodies to Nigeria, not only financial grants but a hope of lifting American arms sales embargo on the country.
“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,” Shehu stated.
Part of the statement read: “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.”
Shehu also noted: “Owing to the free accommodation provided by the host government, all the personal staff who accompanied the President on the trip received reduced allowances.
“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.”