London visit: How much does it cost Nigerian taxpayers?
The recent visit by a dozen party leaders to London, United Kingdom where President Muhammadu Buhari is recuperating costs only a few hours. But the visit has cost Nigerian taxpayers an estimated sum of N50 million.
The same amount can pay for the West Africa Examination Council fee of over 4,000 candidates in Kogi or Zamfara State, or build at least two blocks of 10 classrooms in Oyo State.
Last Sunday, five governors from the All Progressives Congress (APC) including the party chairman, John Oyegun and Aviation Minister Rotimi Amaechi visited President Buhari who has been on medical vacation in London since May 7.
Barely 48 hours after their departure, another six PDP governors drawn from six geo-political regions of the country also paid the president a one-day visit.
It is summer time in the United Kingdom, so the inbound flight is costlier. As at yesterday when six governors led by the Zamfara governor who is the chairman of the Governors Forum departed for London, first class British Airway return ticket cost $9800.
At the official rate of N315 to a dollar, the airfare of each governor amounts to N3 million. For the 12 visitors, the airfare therefore adds up to N37 million.
Meanwhile, The Guardian has learnt that most Nigerian politicians, who visit metropolitan London, lodge at Hilton Hotel on Parklane. And the Abuja House, the Nigerian High Commission in the United Kingdom where President Buhari is being accommodated since May, is 17 minutes’ drive to the Hilton hotel on Parklane.
The least room rate at Hilton is 332 pounds per night. But Hilton Cosmopolitan Suite is considered the preference of most Nigerian VIPs. Currently, the rate is 2000 pounds per night. At N411 to a pound, each governor would be spending over N800, 000 per night.
For the 12 visitors, the total rent is almost N10 million. By the time the feeding expenses are added, the governors’ visit to London would cost Nigerians about N50 million.
Other public officials who have recently visited Buhari in London were the acting President Yemi Osinbajo and the Ogun State Governor Ibikunle Amosun.
Early in the year, the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF), Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara State, had said it was needless for state governors to abandon their responsibilities and travel to London to visit the ailing president. Yari has gone back on his words. He led his fellow governors to Abuja House in London yesterday.
List of governors and other party leaders who have visited President Buhari in London are:
Rochas Okorocha (Imo)
Umaru Tanko Al-Makura (Nasarawa)
Nasir El-Rufai (Kaduna)
Yahaya Bello (Kogi)
Aviation Minister, Rotimi Amaechi
Party Chairman, John Oyegun
Udom Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom),
Dave Umahi (Ebonyi),
Abdulaziz Yari (Zamfara) and Abiola Ajimobi (Oyo).
Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun)
Acting President Yemi Osinbajo.
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