The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has called on the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, to oppose the proposal by the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Nysom Wike, to allocate N15 billion for the construction of a residence for Vice President Kashim Shettima.
In a letter dated December 2, 2023, SERAP’s deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare, emphasized the need for the Senate to exercise its oversight role and reject the alleged wasteful spending outlined in the 2023 supplementary budget and the 2024 budget proposed by President Bola Tinubu.
According to SERAP, the planned N15 billion expenditure on a residence for the vice president constitutes a significant violation of the Nigerian Constitution and the nation’s international anti-corruption and human rights commitments. The organization urged the Senate to ensure that Wike’s proposed spending aligns with constitutional provisions, including the oath of office.
Highlighting the Senate’s constitutional duty to address the country’s debt crisis, SERAP expressed concern over what it described as “wasteful and unnecessary spending to satisfy the personal comfort and lifestyles of public officials.” The organization stressed that the Senate must uphold its independence by scrutinizing and rejecting such expenditures, including the N2.8 billion allocated for publicity in the FCTA.
“The National Assembly cannot continue to fail to fulfill its oversight function. The Senate must assert and demonstrate its independence by checking and rejecting all wasteful and unnecessary spending by the executive,” the letter stated.
SERAP underscored the potential consequences of approving the N15 billion plan amid the country’s escalating debt crisis. The organization called on the Senate to refer allegations of corruption in the previous use of N7 billion for the construction of a new residence for the vice president to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).
The letter warned that should the Senate fail to address wasteful spending and government borrowing, SERAP would consider legal action to compel the National Assembly to fulfill its constitutional oversight roles in the public interest. The organization urged the Senate to prioritize the efficient, honest, and legal use of public funds, considering the country’s economic challenges.
The proposed N15 billion allocation for the vice president’s residence is part of the N67 billion FCT supplementary budget transmitted by President Bola Tinubu to the National Assembly for approval. SERAP raised concerns about the allocation, particularly as N2.5 billion had already been approved for the renovation of the current residence of the vice president.
In addition to the residence plan, the Federal Government’s supplementary budget includes allocations for the renovation of official residences for President Tinubu, car purchases for the Villa and the Office of the First Lady, and other expenditures that SERAP deems extravagant. The organization called on the Senate to exercise its constitutional authority and address these concerns to safeguard public trust and financial responsibility.