Tag Archives: governance

Budget as a Tool of Underdevelopment

Budget as a Tool of Underdevelopment

Former Chairman, House Appropriation Committee, Hon Abdumumn Jibrin

SIMON KOLAWOLE LIVE

In 2011, a brilliant, fine gentleman from the south-south was elected into the Nigerian senate. He was full of hopes and dreams. At a dinner with journalist friends, he outlined his vision and spoke enthusiastically about pursuing “developmental legislative agenda”.

He would make a difference, he promised. Two months after inauguration, the senator came to see his friends in Lagos with his tail between his legs. He said in a defeated voice: “If development is this way (he pointed forward), we are facing this direction (he pointed backward). Since our inauguration, all we have been discussing is money, money, money. It is all about our individual account balances.”

I recalled this story as controversy broke out over President Muhammadu Buhari’s protest that the 2018 budget was severely distorted by the lawmakers with the reduction in allocations to priority projects and addition of over 6,000 new projects. The lawmakers also allocated nearly N140 billion to themselves which, God willing, will be disbursed to the last kobo since it is a first-line charge on the federation account. However, the lawmakers have stoutly defended themselves and sought to justify the alterations. They said the changes were meant to reflect “federal balance”. After listening to both parties, I am still inclined to join issues with the national assembly.

Let us first settle some arguments. One, the national assembly has the power of appropriation. The executive proposes and implements budgets but the legislature must first approve through appropriation. It is in the spirit of checks and balances. Two, the national assembly is not a rubber stamp. It is not as if the executive will send a budget to the legislature and they will just stamp it. Under military regimes, the executive and legislature were one. They were at various times known as the Supreme Military Council, Armed Forces Ruling Council and Provisional Ruling Council. They did everything at once. We always had the budget approved by January 1 every year.

Three, the representation function of the parliament comes into bold relief in the budgeting process. While the president is representing the whole country, legislators represent individual constituencies, and they have a responsibility to factor in the interests of their constituents —and in a way balance the national and the local. Four, the constitution empowers the national assembly to make laws for “peace, order and good government of the federation”. Appropriation offers a powerful opportunity for them to do this. I don’t think we need to be arguing over this. It is therefore logical and legal for the lawmakers to make inputs into the budget in the national interest.

In the national interest? Now, this is where the problem begins. Does the national assembly do anything in the national interest? This is where the argument starts. The parliament has three primary responsibilities: one, representation; two, lawmaking (including appropriation); and three, oversight. These powers are so awesome that if they were properly and patriotically exercised by the lawmakers, Nigeria would have been a much better place. Just imagine all the appropriations to infrastructure, education, health and water from 1999 till date; just imagine a proper parliamentary oversight function; and just imagine how Nigeria would have been transformed.

Based on my observations since 1999, I can safely conclude that the motive behind most budget alterations is anything but national interest. When Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, two-time minister of finance, said in her book, Fighting Corruption is Dangerous, that the national assembly was “bribed” with N17 billion to pass the 2015 budget, some lawmakers raised hell. They deliberately interpreted that to mean bribe was shared among lawmakers, but they knew what she was saying: the executive had to allow the legislature to add that amount to its own budget before the bill was passed. That was the deal maker. This year, lawmakers added N14.5 billion to their budget. Nothing new.

When the president sends the appropriation bill to the national assembly, committees invite chief executives and accounting officers of the ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) to defend their proposals. This is usually at a high cost. Some sessions are televised live. Refreshments are served. Precious time is spent on budget defence. After the whole show when some form of agreements might have been reached, the budget goes to the appropriations committees which then, in a dictatorial manner, begin to alter the budgets. The figures are usually allocated arbitrarily. So why waste time and resources on useless budget defence sessions? What’s the value?

Has anyone ever wondered why the executive will propose a budget of N8.612 trillion with a crude oil benchmark of $45 per barrel and the parliament will raise the benchmark to $51 and increase the budget to N9.12 trillion? Setting a lower benchmark is a wise way of saving in the excess crude account so that when the rain comes falling — as it certainly must do cyclically — we will have something to fall back on. It is common sense to create a fine balance between the need to spend and the need to save so that we do not witness the kind of calamity that befell us between 2014 and 2017 again. A prudent parliament will always consider this fact with a sense of responsibility.

Has anyone also ever wondered why despite all the budget defence by the MDAs, the budget still comes out heavily distorted? The idea of budget defence, which usually goes on for months, is for the executive and the legislature to consider the fine details and arrive at some compromise. Budgets are prepared based on the policies and programmes of a government. The executive has its priorities and goals. So, for all those things lawmakers are unilaterally inserting into the budget, how did they do the costing? They do not execute projects so how did they arrive at those figures? What is the basis for cutting down on priority projects?

Truth be told: while the executive is not blameless, our legislators have turned budgeting to an instrument of blackmail to further personal interests. Budgeting is seen as harvest season. I don’t know if this culture still persists, but the MDAs used to be extorted by the lawmakers ahead of their budget defence in order to facilitate “smooth” passage. When Professor Fabian Osuji was minister of education in 2005, his otherwise sterling reputation was destroyed when lawmakers extorted N55 million from him for “smooth” passage of his ministry’s budget. Some of the criminals went on to become governors and some are today party executives. So it goes.

It is no secret that if the MDAs can “settle” lawmakers very well, their budgets will be increased beyond their wildest dreams. For example, an agency would propose a budget of N10 billion and the lawmakers would promise to increase it to N20 billion if they can “settle” in advance. The increase will be presented as “national interest”. That is one of the reasons the budgets are always bloated every year. They extort during budget defence, extort during oversight function and extort from contractors. In some instances, they will even insist on bringing the contractors for the projects. I don’t know if these practices have stopped but that used to be the untold story.

The lawmakers actually need to examine their consciences. They have turned the concept of separation of powers upside down. They prepare their own budgets and refuse to release the details to the public. How can you perform oversight function on your own budget? Does that make sense, fellow Nigerians? It took a courageous Senator Shehu Sani to reveal to the world that senators legally take home over N13 million a month. Up till today, the house of reps has not told us how much they take home every month. National interest indeed! The lawmakers have over the years successfully arm-twisted us into accepting the so-called constituency projects.

The bigger picture we are not seeing, however, is that as it is in Abuja, so it is in the states and local governments. We focus our attention on Aso Rock and national assembly, but these shenanigans are replicated at local level. Budgets are padded and ballooned. Non-existent projects are “funded” and money shared by those who matter. MDA executives and state lawmakers are having fun with public funds and there is nobody to question them. The controllers of public discourse in Nigeria are more interested in “true federalism” as defined by them; they deliberately ignore the bazaar going on under their noses in their states and councils. So it goes.

The underdevelopment of this country is not accidental. We cannot continue to do things this way and expect progress. At some point the political elite will have to repent. If half of the budget for education or healthcare or roads actually goes into what it is theoretically meant for, we would have overcome most of our daunting challenges by now. If leadership is driven by competence and patriotism, all the oil windfalls since 1999 would have meant something more than ballooning overhead expenditure and distorting the budget for personal benefit under the pretext of “national interest”. I hope that one day, our leaders at all levels will change their ways.

===AND FOUR OTHER THINGS====

UNEQUAL OPPORTUNITY

So many things sadden me about Nigeria, and one of them just manifested in the proposed training of railway engineers in China. The China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) had said it would provide scholarships for Nigerian students but, as things turned out, it is only on paper. Applicants who do not have godfathers were shocked to realise on the day of interview that only those nominated by powerful Nigerians were allowed inside. This country continues to kill the spirit of its citizens. This is why resentment and frustration set in. How do you expect these young men and women to believe in Nigeria? We run an unfair system. Depressing.

GESTAPO STYLE

Senator Eyinnaya Abaribe was arrested on Friday. The general belief is that he was picked up by the Department of State Services (DSS). Typically, DSS would neither confirm nor deny. It does not have a spokesperson. We don’t know why he was picked up; we can only speculate. This is very disturbing. If a senator can disappear in this manner, what is the hope for ordinary Nigerians? If DSS continues to operate this way, I hope this will not open the door to unexplained disappearances in Nigeria for which nobody will take responsibility. The DSS needs to modernise its mode of operation. It is one thing that scares me stiff about this Buhari administration. Alarming.

SORRY YARI

Alhaji Abdulazia Yari, the Abuja-based governor of Zamfara state, has finally told us what we knew all along — that he is not in charge of his state. Zamfara is arguably the state that has witnessed the most bloodshed in Nigeria in the last three years (it is not headline news because, frankly speaking, the politicians and their puppets cannot make a Muslim vs Christian business out of it). Yari says he is giving up his position as the chief security officer of the state. Except he refunds all the security votes he has collected since 2011 and stops collecting more henceforth, we will continue to regard him as the CSO of Zamfara. This has nothing to do with fornication. Incompetence.

AND FINALLY…

Who said “success has many fathers but failure is an orphan”? The person deserves a Nobel for wise saying, if there is any such category. After Nigeria lost to Croatia at the FIFA World Cup, I saw videos on social media showing angry fans burning the beautiful Nigerian jersey. And then we bounced back and beat Iceland on Friday — and suddenly the Super Eagles are the best thing since pounded yam with egusi and bush meat. Hearty congratulations to Ahmed Musa, the two-goal hero. Within minutes after the match, memes of Musa as the presidential candidate of APGA were already trending! More heroics and we will nominate him to be UN secretary-general. Ecstasy.

Culled from ThisDay

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BREAKING: FG Releases Names Of ‘Looters’

BREAKING: FG Releases Names Of ‘Looters’

PDP Chairman, Uche Secondus

The Federal Government has released a list of some of those who have allegedly looted the nation’s treasury.

The Minister of Information, Lai Mohammad, released the list during a press conference in Lagos on Friday.

Mohammad said the individuals include officials in the past government.

The names in the list revealed by the Federal Government include PDP chieftains who are currently being tried for corruption and financial crimes.

“The PDP has challenged us to name the looters under their watch. They said they did not loot the treasury. Well, I am sure they know that the treasury was looted dry under their watch. Yet they decided to grandstand. This shows the hollowness of their apology,” Mohammed said as he released the names.

Find the list below and the allegations against them by the Federal Government…

PDP Chairman Uche Secondus.
Allegation: On the 19th of Feb 2015, he took N200 million only from the office of the NSA.

Former PDP Financial Secretary.
Allegation: On the 24th of Oct 2014, he took N600 million only from the office of former NSA.

Former National Publicity Secretary Olisah Metuh.
On trial for allegedly collecting N1.4bn from the office of former NSA.

Dr Raymond Dokpesi, Chairman of DAAR Communications.
On trial for allegedly taking N2.1 billion from the office of the former NSA.

Former SSA to President Goodluck Jonathan, Dudafa Waripamo-Owei
On trial, over N830 million allegedly kept in accounts of four different companies.

Former President Goodluck Jonathan’s Cousin Robert Azibaola
On Thursday, a Federal High Court ruled that he has a case to answer for allegedly collecting $40 million from the office of former NSA.

The decision by the APC-led government to reveal the names of the alleged looters and the funds allegedly stolen is in response to the opposition party, PDP’s, challenge to the government to name those alleged to have looted the country and destroyed the economy.

Mohammed said this list is just a tip of the iceberg, and the APC did not make these cases up as some of them currently have cases in court.

“They are in court and the records are available. Some of the people on this list are seeking to plea bargain, and that is a fact.

“We insist that Nigeria was looted blind under the watch of the PDP and that the starting point in tendering an apology is for them to return the loot,” he said.

Mohammad said further that the APC will not stop talking about the alleged looting by the PDP.

“We will not stop talking about the massive looting by the PDP. They brought Nigeria to this sorry pass. We are now looking around for loans to build infrastructure, and they ask us not to talk about it. We will talk about it,” he said.

Source: Channels TV

Ekiti bans Fayemi from holding public office for 10 years

Fayemi Banned From Holding Public Office For 10 Years

Kayode Fayemi

The Ekiti State Government has banned Dr. Kayode Fayemi, the Minister of Mines and Steel Development from holding political office in the state and other parts of the country for 10 years.

This is according to a Government White Paper released in Ado Ekiti on Monday.

The white paper was read to journalists by the state Commissioner for Information, Mr Lanre Ogunsuyi at the end of an emergency State Executive Council meeting.

The white paper was the outcome of the report of the Justice Silas Oyewole-led Judicial Commission of Inquiry.

The state government had set up the commission to look into the financial transactions of the state under the administration of Fayemi.

It was mandated to submit its report on Dec. 13, 2017.

Also banned for the same length of period along with Fayemi, was his then Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Dapo Kolawole.

According to the White Paper, both  Fayemi and his Commissioner for Finance have been declared unfit to hold any public position in the state and any part of Nigeria.

“This is as a result of their refusal to appear before the Judicial Commission of Inquiry even after the determination of the case instituted by them to challenge the inauguration of the commission before the Ekiti State High Court

“For their disrespect to the constituted authority and the undignified roles they played in the whole contracts saga which were obviously against the interest of the state they were supposed to protect,  they are banned for holding public offices for 10years.’’


They were also asked to refund various sums of money running into billions, either for failed or non-executed contracts that were allegedly paid for.

It will be recalled that in Dec. 2017, when the panel submitted its reports, Fayemi and others, including contractors were asked to refund billions of misappropriated money to the state government.

Specifically, Fayemi was asked to account for the whereabouts of N2.75 billion allocated from the N25 billion bond obtained by his administration.

The money was for the construction of an ultra-modern market in Ado Ekiti, which was never executed.

The commission also said that the contractor, in respect of the furnishing of the new Government House built by  Fayemi should be made to refund N324.8 million.

According to it, the furnishing contract should not have been more than N280 million.

The panel said it found out that KITWOOD Nig. Ltd., to which the furnishing contract of more than N600 million was awarded had no traceable address.

“The address on the letter of award was a virgin land opposite the new Central Bank along new Iyin Road, Ado Ekiti.’’

Also on the purchase of vehicles, the panel said “claim by Coscharis Motors that it supplied 235 and/or 250 vehicles was fraudulent and fraught with so many contradictions’’.

Source: P.M. News

Lagos gov Ambode drops three commissioners,  appoints five new ones in major cabinet reshuffle 

Breaking: Ambode reshuffles cabinet, drops commissioners

Drops Three Commissioners

…Appoints Five New Ones

Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode on Thursday carried out a major cabinet reshuffle, dropping three commissioners and appointing five new ones.

In a statement signed by the Secretary to the State Government, Mr. Tunji Bello, the three affected cabinet members are Mrs. Adebimpe Akinsola, Mr. Femi Odubiyi and Mr. Anifowoshe Abiola.

The newly appointed cabinet members include Mr. Hakeem Fahm (Ministry of Science and Technology); Mr. Ladi Lawanson (Ministry of Transportation); Mr Segun Banjo (Ministry of Economic Planning and Budget); Mrs. Olayinka Oladunjoye (Ministry of Commerce and Industry) and Mr. Hakeem Sulaiman (Communities and Communications).

The Statement added that major deployments have also been effected.

Mr. Rotimi Ogunleye from Commerce and Industry to Physical Planning and Urban Development; Mr. Steve Ayorinde from Ministry of Information and Strategy to Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Mr. Kehinde Bamigbetan from Communities and Communication to Ministry of Information and Strategy; Mr. Babatunde Durosinmi Etti from Ministry of Wealth Creation to Ministry of the Environment; Mrs. Uzamat Akinbile-Yusuf from Ministry of Youth and Social Development to Ministry of Wealth Creation; Mr. Agboola Dabiri from Central Business District to Ministry of Youth and Social Development.

Others include Dr. Samuel Adejare from Ministry of the Environment to Ministry of Waterfront Infrastructure Development; Engr. Ade Akinsanya from Ministry of Waterfront Infrastructure Development to Ministry of Works and Infrastructure.

In the same vein, the statement also added that Mr. Benjamin Olabinjo has been moved from Special Adviser Commerce and Industry to become Special Adviser Civic Engagement, while Mr. Kehinde Joseph moved from Special Adviser Civic Engagement to become Special Adviser Housing.

Mr. Deji Tinubu, Special Adviser Sports has been redeployed as Special Adviser to the Governor on Commerce and Industry and Mr. Anofiu Elegushi moves from Special Adviser Transport to become Special Adviser, Central Business District.

The new Commissioners are expected to be cleared by the State House of Assembly while the other redeployment and postings take immediate effect.

According to the Secretary to the State Government, Mr. Bello, the new appointments and redeployments are intended to create a new vigour and vitality for service delivery which has been the hallmark of the Governor Ambode administration.

MainaGate casts doubt on Nigeria’s anti-graft crusade

MainaGate casts doubt on Nigeria’s anti-graft crusade

Maina

Muhammadu Buhari was elected as Nigeria’s president on a promise to root out rampant corruption in government that has seen billions of dollars of public money stolen over decades.

But since his landmark election win in 2015 he has yet to secure a high-profile conviction for graft while the main opposition accuse him of mounting a political witch-hunt.

Now, a growing scandal involving an indicted civil servant has engulfed the presidency, giving Buhari’s detractors fresh ammunition and raising questions about his grip on power.

Last weekend, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission announced that the interior ministry had reappointed Abdulrasheed Maina to the civil service.

Maina headed a task force on pension reforms during the last administration but fled Nigeria in 2015 after claims he stole N2bn ($5.6m, 4.8 million euros).

An Interpol arrest warrant was issued yet he still managed to return to Nigeria, where he has apparently since enjoyed armed police protection.

Buhari, who it has been claimed knew about Maina’s return, responded by ordering Maina’s dismissal and arrest but the EFCC said he had again fled Nigeria to avoid being picked up.

The opposition Peoples Democratic Party has predictably seized on the affair, claiming it showed the government’s fight against corruption to be “mere propaganda”.

Ayodele Fayose, the PDP governor of Ekiti state who is eyeing the party’s presidential ticket in 2019, jumped on his favourite target — Buhari himself.

“Fellow Nigerians, are you now convinced that Buhari’s anti-corruption fight is like Satan calling Judas Iscariot a sinner?” he wrote on Twitter.

– Grip on power –
Buhari, 74, has spent much of this year in London being treated for an unspecified illness that has seen him undergo blood transfusions and a barrage of tests.

He returned to Nigeria in August after months of speculation that he was seriously ill and rumours of a power struggle to succeed him if he were to step down or even die.

For Clement Nwankwo, of the Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre in Abuja, “the bigger question (about the Maina affair) is how much control does the president have over his government”.

“Is he fully aware of what is going on?”

Nwankwo said he was “worried that some people in the presidency would have the audacity to smuggle Maina… and even promote him without the president’s knowledge”.

He pointed to hints from the president’s wife, Aisha, and one of his daughters, Zahra, about behind-the-scenes machinations and unchecked corruption at the heart of the presidency.

In a Facebook post in July, Aisha Buhari alluded to “hyenas” and “jackals” surrounding the president, while Zahra called for an investigation of the presidential health facility.

The State House Clinic, which receives massive government funding every year, lacked basic drugs and equipment, she said last month, adding: “Where is the money going to?”

The two women’s aims in speaking out appeared to be “to simply ask Nigerians for help”, said Nwankwo.

– ‘Tainted’ credentials? –
Even before the Maina scandal, Buhari was facing criticism for allegedly sitting on a report into claims of graft by Nigeria’s top civil servant and the intelligence agency chief.

The report, into an alleged kickback scheme involving aid money for victims of Boko Haram and the discovery of $43m in cash at a Lagos apartment, was submitted in August.

Debo Adeniran, from the Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership lobby group, said the Maina case was “a big embarrassment and shame to Nigeria”.

“It shows that there are people in Buhari’s administration that are not committed to his ideals concerning the anti-corruption war,” he said.

“By recalling Maina to the civil service after being implicated in a pension scam, this regime has put a big question mark on the president’s integrity.

“Buhari’s much-publicised anti-corruption credentials have been tainted. It shows that he is the only one who believes in the crusade.”

It has long been suspected that not everyone in government shared Buhari’s anti-corruption zeal but leading lawyer Femi Falana said the situation could still be salvaged.

Maina should be located, charged and put on trial alongside anyone who helped him, he said.

“Those who recalled and promoted the fugitive ought to be sanctioned by President Buhari to serve as a deterrent to others who may wish to sabotage the war against corruption.”

But while Buhari should be given credit for ordering an investigation, “follow-up action” was essential to show the public how serious his government is about tackling the issue.

AFP

Govt officials received N400bn bribes in one year, police, judiciary worst culprits

Govt officials received N400bn bribes in one year – NBS

Ifeanyi Onuba, Abuja

A total of N400 bn was received in bribes by public officials within a period of one year , the National Bureau of Statistics said on Wednesday .

The NBS stated this in its National Corruption Report , adding that 32 . 3 per cent of Nigerian adults who had contact with public officials between June 2015 and May 2016 had to pay bribes to the government workers .

The report , a copy of which was obtained by our correspondent in Abuja , was prepared by the NBS in collaboration with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime .

It said the majority of those who paid bribes to public officials did so more than once over the course of the year .

According to the survey , bribe payers in Nigeria pay an average of six bribes in one year , or one bribe every two months .

By combining the total number of people who paid bribes to public officials with the frequency of the payments , the NBS report estimated that a total of 82 . 3 million bribes were paid in the 12 – month period .

This , the report stated , resulted in an average of almost one bribe paid by every adult Nigerian per year .

The report read in part, “Taking into account the fact that nine out of every 10 bribes paid to public officials in Nigeria are paid in cash and the size of the payments made , it is estimated that the total amount of bribes paid to public officials in Nigeria in the 12 months was around N400 bn , the equivalent of $ 4 .6 bn in purchasing power parity .

“This sum is equivalent to 39 per cent of the combined federal and state education budgets in 2016.

The average sum paid as a cash bribe in Nigeria is approximately N 5 ,300 , which is equivalent to $61 – PPP .

“This means that every time a Nigerian pays a cash bribe , he or she spends an average of 28 .2 per cent of the average monthly salary of N 18 ,900 .

“Since bribe payers in Nigeria pay an average of 5.8 bribes over the course of one year , 92 per cent of which are paid in cash , they spend an average of N 28 ,200 annually on cash bribes – equivalent to 12 .5 per cent of the annual average salary .”

The NBS report said 85 .3 per cent of bribery cases in Nigeria were initiated either directly or indirectly by public officials , adding that almost 70 per cent of bribes were paid before any service was rendered.

“With such a large portion of public officials initiating bribes , which are paid upfront , it seems that many public officials show little hesitation in asking for a kickback to carry out their duty and that bribery is an established part of the administrative procedure in Nigeria ,” it added .

While money is the most important form of bribe payment in Nigeria , the report stated that other forms such as the provision of food and drink , the handing over of valuables or the exchange of another service or favour also existed .

The report further revealed that 42 per cent of bribes in Nigeria were paid to speed up or finalise an administrative procedure that might otherwise be delayed for a long period or even indefinitely .

According to the report , the second largest proportion of bribes is paid to avoid a fine through frequent encounters with police , while 13 per cent of all bribes are paid to avoid the cancellation of public utility services , an indication that the provision of the most basic amenities , including water and sanitation , can be subject to abuse of power by public officials in Nigeria .

The report stated that law enforcement agents such as the police and judiciary workers such as judges and magistrates were the highest takers of bribe in Nigeria .

It stated , “Police officers are the type of public officials to whom bribes are most commonly paid in Nigeria . Of all adult Nigerians who had direct contact with police officers in the 12 months prior to the survey , almost half paid the officers at least one bribe , and in many cases , more than one since police officers are also among the three types of public officials to whom bribes are paid most frequently in Nigeria .

“At the same time , the average bribe paid to police officers is somewhat below the average bribe size .

“Although fewer people come into contact with judiciary officials than with police officers over the course of the year , when they do , the risk of bribery is considerable : at 33 per cent, the prevalence of bribery in relation to prosecutors is the second highest , closely followed by judges and magistrates .”

Other public officials with a high risk of bribery, according to the report , are car registration / driving licence officers ( 28 .5 per cent); tax and customs officers ( 27 . 3 per cent); road traffic management officials ( 25 .5 per cent); public utilities officers ( 22 .4 per cent); and land registry officers ( 20 . 9 per cent) .

“This shows that corruption takes place across a number of different sectors of the public administration and that certain public officials have a disproportionate impact on the daily lives of Nigerians , ” it added 

Aisha joins Buhari in London 

Buhari’s wife joins President in London

President Muhammadu Buhari, left, and Aisha Buhari

Olalekan Adetayo , Abuja

The wife of the President , Mrs . Aisha Buhari , on Tuesday left Nigeria for London , United Kingdom , to join her husband who has been on medical vacation since May 7 .

According to a statement by her spokesperson , Bisi Olumide – Ajayi, the President ’ s wife thanked Nigerians who have been praying for her husband .

The statement read , “The wife of the President , Her Excellency , Mrs . Aisha Buhari today ( Tuesday ) left for the United Kingdom .

“ Her Excellency will spend some time with her husband , President Muhammadu Buhari , who is presently on medical vacation .

“ She expressed her appreciation to the millions of Nigerians who have been praying for his quick and safe return . ”

Mrs. Buhari ’ s journey came three weeks after her husband embarked on his latest medical vacation .

The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity , Mr . Femi Adesina , had announced shortly before President Muhammadu Buhari left the country that the duration of his stay in London would be determined by his doctors .

The statement read , “ President Muhammadu Buhari proceeds to London tonight for follow- up medical consultation with his doctors .

“ He had planned to leave Sunday afternoon , but decided to tarry a bit, due to the arrival of 82 Chibok girls who arrived Abuja earlier in the day .

“ The President wishes to assure all Nigerians that there is no cause for worry . He is very grateful for the prayers and good wishes of the people, and hopes they would continue to pray for the peace and unity of the nation.

“ The length of the President ’ s stay in London will be determined by the doctors . Government will continue to function normally under the able leadership of the Vice President .

“ President Buhari has transmitted letters about the trip to the Senate and the House of Representatives, in compliance with Section 145 (1 ) of the 1999 Constitution . ”
Source: Punch