Documents published by fIJ reveal that the federal government spent a massive $507,384 (N390.7 million) on hotel accommodation for President Bola Tinubu during the 78th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) session in New York last September.
According to a memo dated September 11th, 2023 obtained by FIJ, $422,820 (N325.5 million) out of the total covered room costs for Tinubu and his aides at the luxury St. Regis Hotel from September 16th to 23rd. An additional $84,564 (N65.1 million) was for unspecified incidental charges.
The memo signed by State House Permanent Secretary Adebiyi O. Olufunso sought the President’s approval for the extravagant expenses. The words “Payment authorised as requested” were written on the document indicating Tinubu approved the spending.
At St. Regis New York, room rates range from $915 to as high as $17,273 per night including taxes and fees. The memo stated that the Finance Ministry and Accountant General’s Office were on standby to release the funds from the 15% Wheat Grain Levy Pool Account once approved.
The 15% wheat import levy was introduced in 2012 to promote Nigeria’s food self-sufficiency and reduce import bills.
Critics have slammed the massive hotel expenses for the one week UNGA stay as wasteful, especially at a time when Nigeria faces severe economic challenges and high poverty levels. The lavish spending on presidential accommodation far surpasses the annual income of most citizens.
The revelations have amplified calls for greater fiscal prudence in governance. Many argue that sacrificial leadership should start with cost-cutting excessive expenditures that do not benefit ordinary Nigerians.
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