Nigeria’s Presidency is planning to buy new “kitchen and catering equipment” for N100.8 million in 2017, a proposal sent to the National Assembly says.
The huge amount, coming as Nigerians groan under the weight of economic recession, will add to hundreds of million of naira spent on the recurring item over the years.
Between 2015 and 2016, N325.5 million was spent on purchase of the same “catering and kitchen equipment”.
President Buhari, a former army general, took office in 2015 with a promise to tackle corruption and check waste of public funds. But the president has been accused of not doing enough to fulfil those promises.
His first budget in office – 2016 Appropriation Act – contained evidently shady and repetitive items.
The “kitchen and catering equipment” is an example of a line item that has appeared in national budgets nearly every year since the return of democracy in 1999.
In 2015 budget, jointly executed by the Goodluck Jonathan and Buhari administrations, N237. 4 million was allocated for kitchen items. In 2016, the new government assigned N88.1 million for the same items
The budget merely says the 2017 proposal would cover “Payment of outstanding balance on acquired canteen/kitchen equipment for banquet hall, auditorium and defence house.”
But analysts have questioned why items bought cannot be reused in subsequent years.
Presidential spokespersons, Femi Adesina and Garba Shehu, did not provide any clue. Mr. Adesina advised PREMIUM TIMES to contact the Minister for Budget and National Planning.
The Minister for Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udoma, did not respond or return multiple phone calls. He did not also respond to text messages.
If the new budget is approved by the National Assembly as proposed, it would mean that in three years the State House has spent nearly half a billion naira on catering items – that is exclusive of food items and cooking fuel.
That amount, over N420 million, can help address the problem of “severe acute malnutrition” faced by thousands of children in camps meant for persons displaced by Boko Haram in the North East. It can provide at least 20 basic health centres at N20 million each.
Apart from the “catering and kitchen equipment”, the State House in 2017 also plans to spend N123.2 million on “food stuffs and catering materials supplies”, higher than N102, 939,746 for same item in 2016.
Separately the president and the vice-president have budgets for “food stuff and catering material supplies”.
For the President, N114.97 million – same as 2016 – is proposed for food stuff and catering materials, while the Vice-president, Yemi Osinbajo’s office, is to get N53.50 million for same expenditure line.
Mr. Osinbajo’s proposed allocation is higher N16.7 million and N11.7 spent in 2016 and 2015 respectively.
The proposed food and catering allocations for the president and vice president are cumulatively more than the proposed capital vote for each of Nigeria’s federal teaching hospitals, except Bayero University Teaching Hospital, Kano, which has N202.9 million.
No other teaching hospital besides BUTH has up to N200 million as capital expenditure in the 2017 budget.