Legal Nigeria

Public-funded foreign trips on hold for three months

In response to the economic challenges facing the country and the need for responsible fiscal management, the Federal Government has suspended public-funded foreign trips for three months.

This will be with effect from April 1.

Ministers, heads of departments and agencies, as well as other top Federal Government officials are affected.

A circular on this development from the Office of Chief of Staff, Femi Gbajabiamila, has been conveyed through the Office of Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) to relevant ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).

The circular was posted by a presidential aide on X, formerly Twitter.

It says any official going on an important foreign assignment must obtain presidential approval two weeks before the trip.

The circular was also sent to the Head of Civil Service of the Federation.

It reads: “Mr. President has concerns about the rising cost of travel expenses borne by ministries, departments and agencies of government as well as the growing need for cabinet members and heads of MDAs to focus on their respective mandates for effective service delivery.

“Considering the current economic challenges and the need for responsible fiscal management, I am writing to communicate Mr. President’s directive to place a temporary ban on all public-funded international trips for all Federal Government officials at all levels, for an initial period of three months from April 1, 2024.

“This temporary measure is aimed at cost reduction in governance and intended as a cost-saving measure without compromising government functions.

“All government officials who intend to go on any public-funded international trip must seek and obtain presidential approval at least two (2) weeks prior to embarking on any such trip, which must be deemed absolutely necessary.”

In January, the President ordered the reduction of the number of persons on his entourage and other government officials on local and foreign trips.

First Lady Oluremi Tinubu, Vice-President Kashim Shettima and his wife Nana, were also affected by that policy.

Only 25 aides were expected to accompany the President on local trips and 20 outside the country.

The number of persons okayed for the First Lady and Vice-President is five each.

For local trips, the First Lady is entitled to 10 while the Vice-President is 15.

The wife of the Vice-President was granted 10 aides for her local trips.

A minister is not expected to embark on a foreign trip with more than four persons.

The number of persons to accompany every head of the federal agency on a trip is pegged at two.

Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale, who announced the measure, explained that it was part of the cost-cutting plan of the government.

Don’t distract officials with frequent invitations

Yesterday, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu urged Federal lawmakers not to distract ministers and heads of agencies with frequent oversight invitations.

Speaking at a special Ramadan Iftar, he urged the lawmakers to be considerate.

He said his appointees had delicate responsibilities that required full focus.

The President said: “I have been watching various committees summoning ministers, heads of agencies, etc.

“I have complained to the Speaker to let the poor breath. Let this people do the job.

“We are not saying that you are not influential. We are not saying you cannot do your oversight.

‘’But consider the primary duty of each agency, its personnel or the responsibilities of the Governor of the Central Bank or the Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance to you and the entire nation.

‘’If they are distracted or disturbed, maybe we will shift parliamentary sitting all through the night.

We must find a way to accommodate one another. This is an appeal to you.

“See if you can accept representatives in some instances or even documentation. But do not exercise too much of your powerful position.’’

The President appreciated the cooperation and support his administration has received from the National Assembly.

He added: “‘I cannot thank you enough for what you are doing but it is for our country.

“There’s nothing personal about this. It is for Nigeria and we have no other country but Nigeria.”

“Please do not forget your constituencies and remember what they are going through.”

Speaker Tanudeen Abbas said the House of Representatives would continue to support the administration.

“The House has been very supportive of the President and his policies and we shall continue to ensure that we work together,’’ he said.

Source:The nation