President Bola Tinubu has given the go-ahead for cost-cutting on government expenditures with a significant reduction of 60 percent in the number of official delegations during both local and international journeys. Ajuri Ngelale, the President’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, disclosed this during a press briefing at the Presidential Villa in Abuja. Ngelale explained that this directive would be implemented across the Offices of the President, Vice President, First Lady, Wife of the Vice President, as well as all Ministries, Departments, and Agencies. With this measure, President Bola Tinubu will no longer accept or allow huge security delegations wherever he’s traveling.
The President’s issued directive limits the maximum number of individuals accompanying him on international trips to 20. This number will be reduced to a mere 5 for the First Lady. Whereas, the delegations of the Vice President during official international trips will also be reduced down to 5. The Vice President’s wife’s delegations number will also be reduced to 5. This directive was made after Nigerians expressed their disapproval of the Tinubu administration’s involvement in the United Nation’s COP28 climate summit, which took place in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, and included 1,114 delegates, five weeks ago.
Critics raise doubts on the economic significance of the trips.
Even with claims from the Presidency that only 422 delegates were sponsored, sources reported that ₦2.78bn was disbursed for airfare and estacodes. The first seven months of Tinubu and Shettima’s tenure saw them traverse 16 nations, dedicating a combined total of 91 days to foreign engagements. As for VP Shettima, he dutifully acted as the representative in Italy, Russia, South Africa, Cuba, China, and the US, culminating in an impressive 36 days abroad during the year 2023. Critics raise doubts about the economic significance of these journeys, questioning the delegation’s excessive size, despite the Presidency’s insistence on their crucial role in attracting foreign direct investment to Nigeria.
Ngelale stressed the President’s unwavering commitment to ensuring responsible and sensible management of the nation’s resources for the benefit of its people. From now on, he firmly believes that the era of government wastage and government officials being permitted to conduct their affairs differently from the expected prudence and cost management of Nigerian citizens is ending. Ngelale disclosed additional information regarding the domestic travel regulation, stating that the President has approved a revised cap of 25 personnel to accompany him on trips.
There are also changes regarding the foreign trips for MDAs.
For the First Lady’s Office, the number has been reduced to 10 staff members to accompany her during official domestic trips, while the Vice President’s delegation is limited to 15 employees. Correspondingly, the Vice President’s wife will also have her staff limited to 10 individuals for official travel within the country. Ngelale also revealed a new protocol concerning the President’s travel arrangements, stating that moving forward, each state’s security organizations including the police, the Department of State Services (DSS), or military divisions will take charge of his safety whenever he visits their respective regions. The same rule is applicable to the Vice President’s office, the First Lady, and the Vice President’s wife.
He clarified that the limit on the number of individuals who can travel with each official on international journeys is lower compared to domestic trips due to the considerably higher costs of international travel in general. Ngelale announced that there have been significant changes regarding the composition of foreign trips for MDAs. Ministers are now strictly permitted to be accompanied by a maximum of 4 individuals during their overseas trips, whereas agency heads can only travel with a maximum of 2 persons.
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Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of agencies also face a restriction where they can only bring along two personnel on their global travels, as stated by the president spokesperson. When asked about the consequences for those who disregard this order, the aide to the president noted that it is unnecessary to persuade Nigerian Federal Government officials of the President’s earnestness in executing his directive. However, those who dare to question the authority of the President, doubting the enforceability of his directives and seeking to challenge them, shall face grave consequences for their actions, he said.