SERAP Frowns at 2022 Presidential Budget

The rights group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has in a lawsuit it filed at the weekend asked the Federal High Court in Abuja to stop President Muhammadu Buhari from spending N26billion in the 2022 presidency budget on local and foreign travels, meals and refreshments, sitting allowance, welfare package and office building.

The group in the suit numbered FHC/ABJ/CS/1361/2021 and was filed by its lawyers Kolawole Oluwadare. Ms Adelanke Aremo wants an order of mandamus to authorize and compel the President to cut the N26billion presidency budget on local and foreign travels, meals and refreshments, and send a supplementary appropriation bill to the National Assembly to reflect the reduction.

It also demanded that an order of mandamus be direct and compel the President to publish spending details on the State House Medical Centre since May 29, 2015, to date and to redirect some of the money on travels and meals to boost public healthcare facilities in the country.

SERAP lamented that the proposed N26 billion on travels, meals, refreshments and the presidential wing of the State House Clinic was more than the proposed allocations for ongoing and new projects in 14 teaching hospitals combined.

It stressed that if there is no significant cut to the cost of governance, the government will continue to borrow to fund the country’s budget. SERAP noted that if unnecessary waste and spending is cut, it will go a long way in addressing the budget deficit and debt problems.

“It is in the public interest to stop the government from spending so much money on these items. Persistent borrowing is neither sustainable nor fair to the Nigerian people. The huge spending by the presidency is neither necessary nor in the public interest, especially in the face of the country’s dire economic position, the scant allocations to education and health, and the growing level of borrowing by the Federal Government to fund the 2022 budget.”

“The Buhari administration has constitutional and fiduciary duties to ensure a responsible budget spending and the well-being and prosperity of Nigerians.

“Some of the proposed spendings could be better allocated to improve access of poor Nigerians to essential public goods and services. Any expenditure of public funds should stay within the limits of constitutional responsibilities and oath of office by public officers and comply with Chapter 2 of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution (as amended) relating to fundamental objectives and directive principles of state policy.

“Unless the reliefs sought are granted, the Federal Government will continue to benefit from the breach of the law, and the proposed spending of N26billion would leave the poorest and most vulnerable people without access to essential public goods and services, and burden the next generation.”

However, no date has been fixed for a hearing.

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