• Wednesday, May 22, 2024
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BusinessDay

Tinubu visits over 10 nations, spends over N3.4bn on local, foreign trips within one year

It’s dawn of a new era

President Bola Tinubu is expected to return to Nigeria today from his travel to Saudi Arabia, where he attended the Special Meeting of the World Economic Forum.

Bayo Onanuga, the special adviser to Tinubu on information and strategy, on Tuesday, revealed on his X handle that Tinubu, along with his aides, will tomorrow return to Nigeria from Europe.

Tinubu had on April 23 journeyed to The Netherlands, before travelling to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, to attend the Special Meeting (WEF) held between April 28 and 29, 2024.

Six days after the event, Nigerians raised concerns about the unknown whereabouts of Tinubu and the silence of the presidency to disclose the whereabouts of the president.

Onanuga while disclosing the return of Tinubu said, “President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, along with his aides, will return to Nigeria tomorrow from Europe.”

Aside from the Saudi Arabia trip, Tinubu has embarked on no less than six foreign trips, between May 2023 and May 2024.

In June 2023, Tinubu travelled to Paris, France, for a two-day climate summit.

The journey to Paris came three weeks after assuming office as the president.

From France, he travelled to London, the United Kingdom for a short private rest before he came back to the country to celebrate the Sallah festivities in Lagos.

A few days later, in July, Tinubu travelled to Guinea-Bissau for the 63rd Ordinary Session of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Authority of Heads of State and Government, where he was elected as Chairman of ECOWAS.

He took over from Umaro Sissoco Embaló, president of Guinea-Bissau.

On July 15, from Guinea-Bissau, Tinubu travelled to Kenya on July 15, to attend the fifth mid-year coordination meeting of the African Union, the regional economic communities, the regional mechanisms, and the African Union member states.

In September last year, he travelled to India to partake in the G-20 Leaders’ Summit.

Before returning to Paris, he also travelled to the United Arab Emirates, the United States of America for the United Nations General Assembly.

In October, the president journeyed to Saudi Arabia, Guinea-Bissau and Germany, before embarking on a trip to Dubai.

Other nations of the world he travelled to between May and December 2023 include Nairobi, Kenya; Porto Norvo, Benin Republic; and Berlin, Germany. He spent no less than 55 days in total during the travelling.

The president had also embarked on local trips during festive periods, including Christmas, New Year (2023) and Id-el-Fitr and Easter holidays (2024).

In a statement by his presidential spokesman in January 2024, Tinubu announced reducing the number of official travel delegations by about 60 per cent. He, however, did not say a reduction in the number of his travels.

Earlier, in his New Year greeting to Nigerians, Tinubu stated that “On every foreign trip I have embarked on, my message to investors and other business people has been the same. Nigeria is ready and open for business.”

Within six months of his assumption in May 2023, Tinubu has spent at least N3.4bn ($2.2m; £1.8m) on local and foreign travel.

This amounted to more than 36 percent (N2.49bn) of the amount budgeted for 2023, GovSpend – a civic tech platform that tracks government spending revealed.

The presidency had been under fire for financing about 1,114 delegates to the United Nation’s annual climate summit, COP28, in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates held between November 30 and December 13, 2023.

In response to that, the presidency said it only catered for 422 delegates.

“President Bola Tinubu has approved that anywhere he travels within this country he will no longer accept or allow huge security delegations to be following him from Abuja, which attracts massive bills with respect to estacode and duty allowances,” Ajuri Ngelale said.

The breakdown of this amount showed that N82.2m was spent in June while N393.3m was spent on trips and similar expenditures in August, and N287.9m in September.

In October, when he did not travel anywhere, no amount was spent for such purpose. However, in November and December, N314.2m and N69.2m were spent on local and foreign trips.

Inflation rate surges

Nigeria’s inflation rose to a record high of 33.2 per cent in March, according to the latest Consumer Price Index report by the National Bureau of Statistics. The inflation rate reached the record high from 31.70 percent in February.

Food inflation rose to 40.01 percent from 37.90 percent for the 15th consecutive time.

As of May 2023, when the Tinubu government took over the helm of affairs, data from the National Bureau of Statistics show that the country’s consumer price stood at 22.41 percent.

January 2024 inflation data by the NBS rose to 29.90 percent as against 28.92 percent in December 2023.

“In January 2024, the headline inflation rate increased to 29.90 per cent relative to the December 2023 headline inflation rate which was 28.92 percent,” NBS report revealed.

“Looking at the movement, the January 2024 headline inflation rate showed an increase of 0.98 percent points when compared to the December 2023 headline inflation rate. Similarly, on a year-on-year basis, the headline inflation rate was 8.08 percent points higher compared to the rate recorded in January 2023, which was 21.82 percent.

“This shows that the headline inflation rate (year-on-year basis) increased in January 2024 when compared to the same month in the preceding year (i.e., January 2023).”

Ask Zimbabwe, says Obasanjo

Olusegun Obasanjo, a former president of Nigeria, among many other Nigerians, urged the Federal Government to implement the Zimbabwean approach as a solution to the incessant inflation increase in the country.

According to him, Zimbabwe has recently faced what Nigerians are facing and overcame it, adding that Zimbabwe would have a resourceful approach to Nigeria.

He said, “When the time is rough and tough, the tough must get going. No problem is new and no problem will be permanent. Committing suicide is not the end of any problem, confront it and take it to God because he could do anything. When you have a problem, look at those who have had this problem before and how they overcame it.

“We have this problem of galloping inflation in the country now but do we have a country with such problems recently? Yes, we do, Zimbabwe had this problem recently. Shouldn’t we ask them how they did it even if our approach is different? Even if whatever we shall be doing will be different, we can ask questions to navigate our way out.”