Reacting to a newspaper report which put the cost of President Muhammadu Buhari’s recent trip to the United States in the region of N2.2 billion. The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity Mallam Garba Shehu in a statement refuted the claim.
He described the trip as an all-round success, analyzing the benefits, he said an estimated N2.7 trillion ($13.6 billion) worth of direct investment accrued to the federation account from President Muhammadu Buhari’s recent state visit to the United States.
He said the visit cost the Nigerian treasury less than N220 million contrary to reports in some newspaper that the trip was extravagant, costing about N2.2 billion and was not of any value.
He said the trip was at its minimal cost and in line with the policy of the All Progressive Congress-led administration to cut wastage.
Explaining further, He said that even the President’s son who was on the trip was neither paid allowances nor estacode while the five governors, who were also on the trip financed themselves and plans were already in place to reverse sanctions imposed on the sale of military weapons from the United States to Nigeria to support Nigeria in the war against insurgency.
“Some of the more immediate benefits of the President’s trip to the US include: the proposed $2.1 billion fund from the World Bank for the re-development of the northeast battered by Boko Haram; $5 billion from US investors in Nigeria’s agriculture sector; $1.5 billion investment in the Nigerian’s health sector; and another $5 billion investment from the US in our country’s power sector.
“Also, as things stand, the embargo on weapons sales to Nigeria is in the process of being removed. The trip to the US by President Buhari was definitely very successful and beneficial to Nigeria. Only those rabidly determined to find faults unnecessarily will cook up falsehood in a futile effort to rake up murk where none exists.
“It is very sad that in this age of free-flowing information and in this era of change, a media organisation would make itself available as a vehicle to peddle a lie of such low and ignominious quality.
“Contrary to the newspaper’s assertions, the total cost of the trip to the Nigerian taxpayer was at the most minimal, in line with the policy of this administration to cut waste and extravagance.
“In point of fact, the total amount expended on the trip by the office of the President amounted to nothing near 10 per cent of the speculated figure.
“Owing to the free accommodation provided by the host government, all the personal staff who accompanied the President on the trip received reduced allowances.
“His son, Yusuf, received neither allowances nor estacode. The five governors on the trip each paid their way. Permanent Secretaries who travelled on the delegation did so in accordance with extant rules and none of them exceeded their estacode entitlements.
“Apart from the Nigerian pilot’s mischievous mathematics, it is shortsighted and misleading of the newspaper to have claimed that President Buhari’s trip to the US achieved nothing.
“Nigerian-US relations had suffered severely over the past few years. That relationship has now been reset. The benefits of this symbiotic relationship will become more and more evident as the Buhari administration continues to tackle the challenges of corruption, security and the economy.”
It will be recalled that President Buhari, alongside some APC governors as well other delegates made an official visit to the United States of America early July.