By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor & Livinus Nwabughiogu
LAGOS — An estimated N2.7 trillion ($13.6 billion) worth of direct investment is part of the immediate benefits accruing from President Muhammadu Buhari’s recent state visit to the United States, the Presidency claimed yesterday.
The presidency also affirmed that the visit cost the Nigerian treasury less than N220 million contrary to assertions in some sections of the media. It further explained that President Buhari’s son, Yusuf, did not receive any estacode for the trip even as it contended that great savings were made by members of the delegation against previous visits.
The five governors who were in the delegation, the presidency said, paid their way while permanent secretaries and other senior government officials only received their entitlements.
The presidency’s explanations followed news reports in some sections of the media that the visit was wasteful, cost N2.2 billion and was not in anyway beneficial.
In a statement, yesterday, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, said besides the economic benefits, plans were already in motion to lift hindrances to the flow of military support for Nigeria’s war against insurgents in the North-East.
Some immediate benefits
According to him, “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.
Buhari’s son didn’t receive estacode, govs paid their way
“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.”