Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to follow the ‘Namibia example’ by issuing an order to ban the purchase of new cars by the presidency and ministers.
SERAP said savings from such ban should be used 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.
The group advised Buhari to also encourage federal lawmakers and governors to effect same ban and use savings to pay workers’ salaries and pensioners’ entitlements.
Namibia President Hage Geingobon reportedly imposed a five-year ban on buying of new cars for top politicians and government officials in order to redirect the funds to fight COVID-19.
In an open letter dated 16 May 2020, signed by deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, SERAP told Buhari that coronavirus has reinforced the 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. 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”, it read.
“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. The constitutional oaths of office by public officials include the responsibility to prioritise the well-being of Nigerians.
“Copying the Namibia example will also show that public funds will be spent for the benefit of the people, and not as a prerogative for the advantage of the government or the benefit of public officials. 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.”