SERAP Urges Buhari to Ban Car Perquisites for Presidential Cabinet

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The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent an open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari imploring him to follow the example set by the Nambian government in issuing an executive order which prohibits the presidency and cabinet members from purchasing cars for the remainder of their administrative tenure which is, until May 2023.

SERAP urged him to utilize the savings from the ban in supporting students of tertiary institutions across the country thereby cushioning the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown on and their parents, and to make healthcare accessible to all citizens.

The body also charged the president to admonish the National Assembly and governors to ban the purchase of new cars and use the savings to pay workers’ salaries and pensioners’ entitlements.

Last week, Namibia’s president Hage Geingobon had reportedly placed a five-year ban on the purchase of new cars by top politicians and government officials in order to channel the funds to the fight against COVID-19 in his country.

In the letter dated 16 May 2020, and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said: “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.

“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.”

In part, the leter said: “The constitutional oaths of office by public officials include the responsibility to prioritize 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.”

“This presidential directive is expected to save the country some 200 million Namibian dollars (US$10.7 million), which would then be directed to “to urgent priorities, specifically at a time when the country is dealing with the health and economic implications of COVID-19.”

“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.”  

“SERAP remains concerned that several state governments are failing to pay workers’ salaries, and that the Federal Government is failing to pay pensioners’ entitlements.”

“This is a clear violation of the right to work recognized under article 6 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, to which Nigeria is a state party. The right to work is essential for realizing other human rights and forms an inseparable and inherent part of human dignity.”

 “We hope that the aspects highlighted will help guide your actions in acting to ensure and promote the public interest and the common good in public spending.”

The organization further urged the government to finalize the proposed amendment to the 2020 budget and ensure that public funds are used for the benefit of the public.


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