Several millions may have been spent already on the tour
More than 100 officials visiting states of the federation on the “good governance tour” are entitled to a government-paid Estacode, the group, led by the Information minister, Labaran Maku, said Sunday.
The remark provides the first official confirmation huge sum was being channeled into the programme dismissed by many as a scam and waste scarce public funds that could have served better needs.
Agreement reached ahead of the tour, was for the federal government to foot the Duty Tour Allowance, DTA, of at least 120 officials and their transportation to all the states, while the host governors provide feeding and accommodation, the tour team said in a statement.
Those on the list include officials of the ministry of information, and relevant federal government offices, civil society groups and journalists.
“The support of the NGF(Nigerian Governors Forum) for this exercise as agreed by members was the provision of logistics, majorly accommodation and feeding, to effectively facilitate the project tour of their respective states, while the Federal Ministry of Information takes charge of transportation and payment of Duty Tour Allowances for the NGGT delegation,” the statement signed by the Coordinator of the group, Samuel Ajayi, said on Sunday.
The statement did not mention how much was proposed for the trip.
The government claims the tour is providing a rare opportunity for the public to be acquainted with projects achieved by the federal and the state governments, while engendering the so called citizen-government engagement fora.
Controversy grew over the tour and its cost, after the Edo state governor, Adams Oshiomhole, said he turned down the team’s request that Edo state provides the accommodation and feeding as agreed.
In an apparent reference to Mr. Oshiomhole’s stance, his Delta state counterpart, Emmanuel Uduaghan, said on Thursday all governors had given their commitment to the project.
The team’s said in its statement it was seeking to make put the record straight, expressing surprise at Mr. Oshiomhole’s remarks.
“We are surprised that Governor Oshiomhole chose to make such declaration only a few days to the NGGT visit of Edo State because wherever we went to, citizens were excited because of the opportunity and the platform the tour provided for them to freely express their opinions, suggestions or offer advice to those in government on how they are being governed,” the group said.
The group rejected the tour was illegal, and advised that states that had no interest in the program had the option of opting out without “blackmailing the Tour Team.”
“In the event of any state opting out, the Tour Team will proceed regardless to inspect Federal projects,” the group said.