Temitope Ajayi, the Senior Special Assistant to President Bola Tinubu on Media and Publicity, has defended the N6.9 billion allocation for luxury vehicles in the supplementary budget.
President Bola Tinubu had proposed to spend N6.9 billion on the procurement of vehicles for the State House, with the Office of the First Lady getting N1.5 billion for new cars.
It would be recalled that the President sent the N2.17 trillion Supplementary Budget to the National Assembly for approval.
The development generated outrage, with many Nigerians expressing displeasure at Tinubu’s decision.
In a statement on Thursday, Temitope noted that the N6.9 billion covers the acquisition of vehicles for the President, his vice, Kashim Shettima and political aides at the State House in need of operational vehicles.
He asserted that no political appointee has benefited from the public treasury or received any salary since President Tinubu assumed office.
The statement read, “On matters of vehicles, the N6 billion budget provision is not to buy vehicles for the President and Vice President alone. President Tinubu and Vice President Shettima are not using any new vehicles in their fleet. They are using inherited vehicles. There are hundreds of civil servants and political aides working at the State House who need operational vehicles. I am a senior aide of the President. I am using my personal car and at my own expense since I resumed work more than five months ago.
“Like me, virtually all the appointees of the President are using personal vehicles at their own expense for official duties. Most of the vehicles in the pool for various departments are run down. Even members of the State House Press Corps do not have functional bus to ease their movement. I know for a fact that a request for a new bus for State House Press Corps is captured in the supplementary budget for vehicles.
“It is necessary to add that none of the political appointees has drawn any benefit and perks from public treasury. I must add that in 5 months, we have not even received a kobo as salary because of procedural issues involved in capturing new appointees on the payroll via IPPIS.
The Presidency is a huge Bureaucracy with hundreds of staff. Any budget head for the State House is to run the system, not for the epicurean fantasy of a sitting President and Vice President. In this pageview-centric and social media age, it is easy to provoke public rage. It is also tempting for bloggers and quack journalists to take the easy road of sensationalism to attract traffic to their blogs and news websites. But good journalism, I believe, should be about substance and nuanced reporting.”