Nigerian Navy Takes Delivery of Yacht Amid Government Budget Debate
In the midst of a fervent debate over the proposed N5 billion presidential yacht to be procured by the Federal Government, as outlined in the 2023 supplementary budget presented to the National Assembly, the Nigerian Navy confirmed on Friday that it had taken possession of the yacht.
Commodore Adedotun Ayo-Vaughan, the Director of Information for the Nigerian Navy, in an interview with one of our correspondents on Friday, disclosed that the yacht had been in the country since June 2023. He elucidated that the request for a replacement of the defunct presidential yacht had been pending since the administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari and emphasized that the purpose of the yacht was for training.
However, emerging indications suggest that payment for the yacht may encounter delays, as both chambers of the National Assembly have expressed opposition to the allocation. Consequently, the federal lawmakers have refused to approve the payment for the yacht. Thus, while the yacht has already been delivered to the country, the means by which the government will secure the funding for it remains uncertain in the coming days and months.
Earlier on Friday, Senate Chief Whip Ali Ndume, representing Borno South, clarified in an interview with Arise TV that the presidential yacht had been delivered but not paid for. He pointed out that the Senate had questioned the budgeted amount for the yacht, citing unfavorable currency exchange rates. He explained that the budget had been based on an exchange rate of N435 per dollar, while the current rate had surpassed N800 per dollar. Additionally, he noted that the Navy clarified that it was not a new budget, and the House of Representatives had redirected the budgeted sum to the Student Loan program.
Ndume further explained that the N5 billion allocated for the yacht was included in the supplementary budget because it had not been paid for. He emphasized that President Bola Tinubu is not a lavish spender and would not opt for such extravagance. The Navy justified its purchase, asserting that the request for a new presidential yacht had been pending for a long time and was also intended for the Presidential Fleet Review 2023 held in May.
The controversy surrounding the procurement of the yacht has provoked widespread criticism, especially given the current economic challenges. Special Adviser to the President on Information and Strategy, Bayo Onanuga, clarified that the yacht was intended for operational purposes and not for the personal use of President Tinubu. The Navy reaffirmed this statement during an interview with our correspondent, emphasizing that the request for the yacht came from the Navy itself.
As concerns mount about the delayed payment for the yacht due to opposition from the National Assembly, it raises questions about when the yacht can be put to operational use by the Navy. According to the naval spokesperson, the delay in payment is indeed the reason behind the delay in using the yacht for its intended purposes.
The House of Representatives, in response to the ongoing debate, asserted that procurement without legislative approval would be unconstitutional and void. They have moved the N5 billion allocated for the yacht to fund the proposed student loan scheme. The Chairman of the House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Akin Rotimi, emphasized that the National Assembly is the sole authorizing entity for government expenditures, in line with the constitution.
The Senate has summoned an emergency sitting, originally scheduled for Saturday but later shifted to Monday, to address the issue. It aims to adopt the Votes and Proceedings of Thursday’s plenary session. The Senate Spokesperson, Yemi Adaramodu, clarified that the decision to hold the meeting on Monday was due to several senators being away in their constituencies on Saturday.