The House of Representatives Committee on Navy will be investigating the Nigerian Navy for procuring the controversial presidential yacht without the approval of the National Assembly.
The Chairman of the House Committee on Navy, Yusuf Gagdi (APC, Plateau) told PREMIUM TIMES via phone interview that the Navy already procured the yacht before seeking approval from the National Assembly.
Mr Gagdi, who was also the Chairman of the Committee on Navy in the ninth assembly, said his committee never approved the procurement but the Navy embarked on extra-budgetary spending.
“Committee on Navy will investigate how a platform was brought in without the approval of the parliament. We will soon commence an investigation,” he said.
Controversial presidential yacht
On Tuesday, President Bola Tinubu submitted a N2.17 trillion budget to the National Assembly. However, a review of the budget shows that it contained some extravagant spending including N5 billion for presidential yacht and some other expenses.
Following the public outcry, the House of Representatives passed the budget without the presidential yacht. It added the funds for the yacht to the student loan line of the budget.
The Presidency, via a statement by Bayo Onanuga, claimed that the yacht was not meant for the president. He claimed that the Navy had requested to buy the platform and it was approved by the last administration.
“The Naval boat was ordered by the navy under the previous administration. President Tinubu has consistently said that the government is a continuum as he inherited both assets and liabilities of past administrations,” he said.
The Majority Whip of the Senate, Ali Ndume, while speaking on Arise TV, on Friday revealed that the navy already procured the platform and was just requesting the money to pay the vendor.
Mr Ndume, who was the chairman of the Senate Committee on Army in the ninth National Assembly, said the presidential yacht is already in Nigeria.
“We queried the amount budgeted for the yacht, but it was signed for a dollar rate, and the new rate isn’t favourable. The budget was predicated on about N435, and now it is over N800.
“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,” Mr Ndume said.
We never gave the approval to buy the platform
Mr Gagdi confirmed that the platform is already in Nigeria, noting that the Navy broke the law by procuring a naval platform without the approval of the National Assembly.
“As a parliamentarian and representative of the people, I will be the last person to support anybody, any government agency to procure anything without money being budgeted for it.
“In my four years chairmanship of the Committee on Navy, I am not aware at any time where the Navy approached me or my committee or the House of Representatives asking for monetary provision for the procurement of a presidential yacht. I am not aware of that. It is against our law for any agency to bring any platform without the approval of the parliament making monetary provision for it. I know nothing about it.
“What I know, I will tell you what I know. I only saw it just like any other Nigerian who saw it on social media,” he said.
The legislator explained the presidential yacht is to be used by the President to do the ceremonial inspection of Naval assets.
He noted that if the Navy had informed the legislators and got the needed approval, they would have known how to explain to the Nigerians.
“I know what a presidential yacht should be. It should be a war yacht that the president uses to go into the water to see the display of national assets that the navy has in terms of ships that fight oil thefts, piracy, and all forms of crimes in our water.
“In our water, where most of the economic transactions are taking place, the navy is situated within our water to ensure the safety of our water. There is a tradition for Mr President to see the display of activities by the Navy.
“If the navy is procuring a N5 billion presidential yacht, we would have known how to explain to Nigerians that this is what the navy has done, what they intend to do, and equally tell Nigerians that there is a need to have that. Just because Nigeria controls the Gulf of Guinea. Nigeria is the biggest navy within the Gulf of Guinea. The Nigerian Navy is the biggest platform, so they need it. To buy it without telling us is a different thing. I am not aware of it”
When PREMIUM TIMES contacted the spokesperson of the Nigerian Navy, Ayo Vaughan, he said the new presidential ship was to replace the MV Amaria that used to serve as the presidential yacht.
Mr Vaughan added that the ‘boat’ was ordered to be used by then President Muhammadu Buhari for the Presidential Fleet Review 2023.
“Yes, under the immediate past administration, a long overdue request was made for a Presidential yacht to replace MV AMARIA, the defunct Presidential yacht. Also to be used for the Presidential Fleet Review 2023 that was held in May this year,” he said.
He added that the presidential yacht “came a little after the Presidential Fleet Review 2023 for which she was to be put to use by the then president.”
Mr Buhari, on 11 May, inspected the Naval fleet in Lagos and inaugurated two ships into the fleet.
When Mr Vaughan, a commodore, was asked about getting the approval of the National Assembly, he directed the reporter to the Chairmen of Committees on Navy at the National Assembly.
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