The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) urged President Muhammadu Buhari to ban the purchase of new cars for the Presidency and ministers.
It made the appeal in an open letter addressed to the President dated May 16 and signed by its deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare.
The group asked President Buhari to use his leadership position to follow the ‘Namibia example’ by urgently issuing an executive order to prohibit the purchase of new cars till the end of his administration.
According to it, the savings from the ban should be used to support students of tertiary institutions across the country to reduce the impact of COVID-19 and the lockdown on them and their parents.
It suggested that the funds should also be used to improve access to healthcare for all Nigerians, and the National Assembly and governors should be encouraged to also ban the purchase of new cars and to use the savings to pay workers’ salaries and pensioners’ entitlements.
SERAP asked high-ranking public officials and politicians to demonstrate the constitutional oaths of absolute loyalty to the public interest and the common good, especially in the period of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It added that the expenditure of public funds required the highest degree of public trust, stressing that every public official has a duty to protect and preserve the public interest in public spending.
Read the letter to the President below:
16 May 2020
Muhammadu Buhari GCFR
President, Federal Republic of Nigeria
Aso Rock Presidential Villa
Re: Request to follow the ‘Namibia example’ by urgently issuing executive order to ban the buying of new cars by the presidency, and ministers for the remainder of the tenure of your administration
Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) is writing to request you to use your leadership position to urgently issue 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.
SERAP also urges you to use the savings from this ban to support students of tertiary institutions across the country in order to reduce the impact of COVID-19 and the lockdown on them and their parents and to improve access to healthcare for all Nigerians.
SERAP urges you to encourage the National Assembly and the 36 state governors to also ban the buying of new cars and to use the savings to pay workers’ salaries and pensioners’ entitlements.
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 is a non-profit, nonpartisan, legal, and advocacy organization devoted to promoting transparency, accountability, and respect for socio-economic rights in Nigeria.
SERAP received the Wole Soyinka Anti-Corruption Defender Award in 2014 and was nominated for the UN Civil Society Award and Ford Foundation’s Jubilee Transparency Award.
SERAP serves as one of two Sub-Saharan African civil society representatives on the governing Committee of the UNCAC Coalition, a global anti-corruption network of over 380 civil society organizations (CSOs) in over 100 countries.
According to reports, Namibia’s president Hage Geingobon on Thursday imposed a five-year ban on buying new cars for top politicians and government officials from buying new cars in order to redirect the funds to fight COVID-19 in his country.
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”.
Copying the example of Namibia 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.
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.
The constitutional oaths of office by public officials include the responsibility to prioritise the well-being of Nigerians.
Imposing a ban on new cars by the presidency, ministers and encouraging the leadership of the National Assembly and the 36 state governors to do the same would serve the public interest, contribute to cutting the cost of governance.
As the trustees of Nigerians’ public funds, your government, the National Assembly and governors are accountable to the public for the management of those public 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.
As the government prepares to finalise the proposed amendment to the 2020 budget, we urge you to immediately impose a 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.
SERAP remains concerned that several state governments are failing to pay workers 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.
Please accept the expression of our highest consideration. Thanking you in advance for your urgent attention to the matter.