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ASO ROCK WATCH: That travel ban on appointees. Two other talking points



Last week, President Bola Tinubu banned his Ministers, Heads of Agencies, political appointees, and top government officials from travelling abroad with public funds for three months.

We tracked two other stories from the presidency within the week under review.

1. Tinubu’s travel ban

Following the need to reduce the cost of governance, Tinubu, on March 21, banned his appointees from embarking on foreign trips sponsored with public funds for three months.

The ban, which was contained in a letter dated March 12, and signed by Femi Gbajabiamila, the Chief of Staff (CoS) to the President, and addressed to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), George Akume, will come into effect from April 1.

“…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 Ist April 2024.”
“This temporary measure is aimed at cost reduction in governance and intended as a cost-saving measure without compromising government functions,” the letter read in part.

Many would view Tinubu’s temporary travel ban on appointees as part of the coordinated measures to trim the cost of governance.

Many more would, however, argue that the measures seem to be mere tokenism as they barely scratch the surface in the country’s quest to check profligacy by its leaders.

So, the key question that continues to agitate the mind of a large number of critics is whether President Tinubu will pursue the radical path of not just implementing the many white papers on cutting the cost of governance, but also initiate the legislative process of altering Nigeria’s bicameral legislature, which is largely seen as drain pipe?

While the president rides the wave of his current initiatives, Nigerians await the ‘Big Bang’ in institutionalized steps aimed at returning the country on the path to economic and political stability.

Two other talking points

2. Tinubu’s caution on legislative interferences

On March 20, Tinubu appealed to the National Assembly to stop the frequent summons of his appointees as such could disturb and distract them from carrying out their primary duties.

READ ALSO:ASO ROCK WATCH: Tinubu on, ‘we are not going back’. One other talking point

“I have been watching various committees summon ministers and agency heads. I have complained to the Speaker to let the poor breathe. Let these people do the job. We are not saying you are not influential. We are not saying you cannot do your oversight,” Tinubu stated during a Ramadan fast-breaking event in Abuja.

Tinubu’s appeal raises serious concerns over the principle of separation of powers, and may have sent signals of his impatience with constitutionalism.

The push back from his office, therefore, sets a tone of not wanting to subject his actions to interrogations or scrutiny which are a necessity for holding government accountable.

Indeed, the expectations are that the country’s leadership across all arms of government must welcome the checks and balances which form the bedrock upon which democracy is built.

3.Shettima’s assurance
No contract will extend beyond May 29' Shettima,  says, rejects overtures from Indian firms

Vice President Kashim Shettima, on March 19, assured Nigerians that the country was on the path of total recovery from all its challenges, and that good days are not far off.

Shettima stated this at the fast-breaking evening for Muslims during Ramadan, organised by Tinubu for members of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) and service chiefs.
“…we have crossed the Rubicon and the nation is on the path to sustained growth. Some nations have gone through some worse phases in the annals of their history than us,” he said.

Shettima’s speech, which is aimed at restoring confidence in the country’s leadership, may have made light of the current hardships still confronting Nigerians.

‘Crossing the rubicon’, many would argue, does seem an unnecessary and poor hype of government’s achievements so far!

Therefore, the Tinubu administration must be cautious in celebrating its perceived successes which appear not to align with the everyday experiences of average Nigerians.

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