President Bola Tinubu has budgeted N5 billion each for the purchase of a Presidential Yacht and another N5.5 billion for the Education Loan Fund as part of the implementation of the Higher Education Access Act, 2023, otherwise known as Students Loan Act.
The sum is part of the N2.17 trillion supplementary budget Mr Tinubu sent to the National Assembly for approval. The President also budgeted N5.1 billion for the rehabilitation of 100 schools in 100 days programme in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
The budget has already scaled the second reading at the House of Representatives.
The president has come under fire for also budgeting N28 billion for the purchase of luxury cars for himself, the first lady, as well as the renovation of the president’s residence among other spending for the state house.
The review of the proposed supplementary budget showed that despite the country’s economic challenge, the government is also planning to spend N12.5 billion on the Presidential Air Fleet.
The budget also showed N4 billion for the renovation of the residential quarters of the president, and N2.5 billion for the renovation of the Vice President’s residence.
The government also plans to spend another N2.9 billion on Sport Utility Vehicles (SUV) for the Presidential Villa, and another N2.9 billion to replace operational vehicles for the presidency.
The government also plans to spend N1.5 billion on vehicles for the Office of First Lady, which doesn’t exist under the country’s law.
This is the latest in the extravagant spending by the Nigerian government despite its continuous plea to Nigerians to endure the current hardship caused by the removal of petrol subsidy, which has led to a hike in the price of commodity goods by more than 300 per cent.
Last week, members of the House of Representatives began sharing a 2022 model of Toyota Landcruiser Prado Sport Utility Vehicles (SUV) to its members. The cost of the “operational vehicles” purchased for 469 members of the National Assembly is above the package prescribed for the lawmakers by the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC). While PREMIUM TIMES couldn’t confirm the actual unit price of the SUVs, it is expected to be between N130 million and N160 million.
Students’ loan budget, implementation
The Higher Education Act signed into law by President Tinubu in June was supposed to take off in September but the president announced recently that the implementation has now been scheduled for January 2024.
The Education Loan Fund was created by an Act and is to be domiciled and managed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The Act listed its sources of funding to include; one per cent of all profits accruing to the federal government from oil and other minerals; one per cent of taxes, levies and duties accruing to the federal government from the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) and Nigerian Customs Service (NCS); education bonds and education endowment fund schemes. The loan will also be funded through donations, gifts, grants, endowment and revenue accruing to the fund from other sources.
Meanwhile, the law also stipulates the constitution of a special 11-man committee chaired by the CBN governor, a secretary to be appointed by the chairperson. It is unclear whether this committee has been constituted or not.
Other committee members, as stipulated by the Act, include the ministers responsible for education and finance, or the latter’s representatives, and the Auditor-General of the Federation.
Also listed are: the Chairman, the National Universities Commission (NUC), a representative of the forum of university vice-chancellors, a representative of the forum of polytechnic rectors and forum of provosts of all colleges of education in the country.
The repayment of the loan begins exactly two years after the completion of the participation in the NYSC programme, according to the Act.
From its inception, the bill, now an Act, has generated controversy with some sections of the public accusing the government of attempts to wash its hand off the funding of tertiary institutions. The institutions are chronically underfunded, leading to disputes between the government and staff unions.
More than a dozen Nigerian public universities have increased the fees payable by Nigerian students by more than 100 per cent, despite the government insisting that the institutions remain tuition-free.
The president’s spokesperson, Ajuri Ngelale, is yet to respond to PREMIUM TIMES’ inquiry on it. He had said on the phone on Wednesday that there was a network jam where he was. But he has yet to respond to messages sent to him conveying the questions.
Qosim Suleiman is a reporter at Premium Times in partnership with Report for the World, which matches local newsrooms with talented emerging journalists to report on under-covered issues around the globe
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