The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to suspend the purchase of new cars for executive and legislative members for the remaining two years left for him in office.
The advocacy group made this known in an open letter to President Buhari on Saturday, which was signed by its Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare.
SERAP urged the President to use his “leadership position to follow the ‘Namibia example’ by urgently issuing an executive order to ban the purchase of new cars by the presidency, and all ministers for the remainder of the tenure of your administration, that is, until May 2023.”
POLITICS NIGERIA reports that the Namibia President Hage Geingob announced cost-cutting measures on Friday to save up to 200 million Namibian dollars ($10.80 million) as the country battles with the impact of the novel coronavirus.
SERAP, however, advised Mr Buhari to use the proceeds from the ban to support students of tertiary institutions across the country to reduce the impact of COVID-19 and the lockdown on them and their parents and to improve access to healthcare for all Nigerians.
“We also urge you to encourage the National Assembly and governors to ban the purchase of new cars and to use the savings to pay workers’ salaries and pensioners’ entitlements.”
Also, the organization noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the urgent need for high-ranking public officials and politicians to demonstrate the constitutional oaths of absolute loyalty to the public interest and the common good.
“As trustees of Nigerians’ public funds, your government, the National Assembly and governors are accountable to the public for the use of those funds.”
SERAP said: “The expenditure of public funds requires the highest degree of public trust. It is the constitutional duty of every public official to protect and preserve the public interest in public spending.”
According to SERAP: “Imposing a ban on new cars by the presidency, ministers and encouraging the National Assembly and governors to do the same would serve the public interest, and contribute to cutting the cost of governance.”
“SERAP also urges you to consider banning spending on generators in the presidency, and cutting spending on items like furniture and fittings, refreshments, catering services and purchase of kitchen and household equipment.”
“As the government prepares to finalise the proposed amendment to the 2020 budget, we urge you to immediately impose ban on the purchase of new cars by the presidency, and to encourage the National Assembly and the 36 state governors to do the same, and to ensure that public funds are used for the benefit of the public,” the statement partly read.
It should be noted that stakeholders and economic experts have earlier proposed that the government cut its expenditure in order to salvage the economy.
Last week, former Vice president Atiku Abubakar asked the Federal government to sell some jets in the Presidential fleet and reduce the cost of feeding in Aso Villa.
He also advised the National Assembly to forgo the 37bn renovation plans.