Salvation for Nigerian students came from the least expected quarters as the House of Representative members yesterday blocked the purchase of a presidential yacht valued at over N5 billion. Earlier the Senate had approved the the purchase of the controversial item which was contained in the Nigerian Navy budget.
But the House had queried the inclusion of the yacht in the budget saying the nation does not need it at this time and adding the money to the Student Loan Scheme increasing the loan take off grant to N10billion.
Speaking on the House’s refusal to approve the planned purchase of the boat, Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations Abubakar Bichi stated, “As far as we are concerned, we don’t need that anymore. We have increased the student loan.
Bichi stated, “As far as we are concerned, we don’t need that anymore. We have increased the student loan.
“If you can recall, the student loan was N5bn in the budget, but now we have increased it from N5bn to N10bn so that our students will be able to access that facility in order for them to be able to go to school and to be able to afford them.”
He revealed that the payment request for the boat was part of the committed obligation submitted by the office of the Chief of Naval Staff to the Ministry of Defence and the Presidency, adding that “the total of the submitted requests was in excess of N200bn out which N62bn was approved by the President.”
The inclusion of the vote for the yacht in the budget had generated widespread criticisms of the Presidency but the Nigerian Navy clarified that the marine vessel was not meant for Tinubu, adding that it was a request by the service.
However, the Director of Information, Nigerian Navy, Commodore Adedotun Ayo-Vaughan revealed that the service made a “long overdue request” for the replacement of the defunct presidential yacht under the Muhammadu Buhari administration.
“Under the immediate past administration, a long overdue request was made for a Presidential yacht to replace MV AMARIA, the defunct Presidential yacht. It was also to be used for the Presidential Fleet Review 2023 that was held in May this year,’’ he explained.
Also clearing the air over the controversial yacht in a statement titled, ‘The facts on the naval boat in 2023 supplementary budget,’ the Special Adviser to the President on Information and Strategy, Bayo Onanuga, explained it was not for Tinubu’s personal use.
He stated the naval boat was described in the budget as a ‘Presidential yacht’ “because of its high-level security features.”
Onanuga: “What was named as Presidential Yacht in the budget is an Operational Naval boat with specialised security gadgets suitable for high-profile operational inspection and not for the use of the President.
“The Naval boat was ordered by the navy under the previous administration. President Tinubu has consistently said that government is a continuum as he inherited both assets and liabilities of past administrations.”
The statement said the President was focused on securing the country and its territorial waters and is “investing more resources to enhance greater economic output from our oil and gas, marine and blue economy.”
While describing Tinubu as “a leader who understands the economic challenges being faced by the masses,” Onanuga said Nigerians would soon “get the benefits of the ongoing reforms that will certainly lead to a buoyant and improved quality of life for all citizens.”