The Federal Government has budgeted the sum of N12.36bn for office and residential rent of Ministries, Departments and Agencies for the year 2020, which is way higher than the N11.2bn set aside for the payment of rent in 2019 and N9.5bn in 2018.
The increment is despite a policy by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to convert properties seized from alleged looters to government agencies.
The immediate past Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, had in 2016 lamented the huge cost being incurred by the government on residential and office buildings, adding that between 2012 and 2014, an average yearly sum of N3.55bn was spent on rent by the government.
Adeosun had said, “The average annual expenditure on rent for the three year period from 2012 to 2014 was N3.55bn. The issuance of price guidelines and initiatives for reducing expenditure on rent on office and residential buildings will be the primary focus in the coming months.
“And to achieve that, we are already looking at using properties that were forfeited from recoveries and moving some of our agencies to occupy those properties rather than paying rent.”
She subsequently set up an Efficiency Unit in 2016 headed by Mrs Patience Oniha to cut the cost of governance especially in the area of rent.
However, the 2020 budget proposal submitted by President Buhari to the National Assembly reveals a budget of N12.3bn for residential and office rent.
Of the sum, N4.8bn was set aside for the payment of rent in Nigeria’s foreign missions while N7.5bn was earmarked for the payment of rent locally.
DPH News gathered learnt the Office of the National Security Adviser has the highest budget for rent as it allocated N153m for office rent and N2.18bn for residential rent, a total of N2.3m.
Incidentally, the Office of the NSA budgeted N121m for rent in 2019. This implies that the NSA’s rent budget for 2020 is about 20 times higher than the previous year.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission set aside N42.3m for office rent while the Presidential villa earmarked N66.6m for residential rent.
The Ministry of Information and Culture and its agencies budgeted N200m in total for office rent.
The Ministry of Interior and its agencies, however, allocated the sum of N253m for office rent and N242m for residential rent.
The Ministry of Police Affairs and its agencies are to spend N103m on office rent and N357m on residential rent, while the Ministry of Communication Technology is expected to get N2.5m for office rent.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, however, budgeted N235m for office rent and N266m for residential rent, while the Ministry of Special Duties and Inter-governmental Affairs earmarked N11,892,600 for office rent.
The Buhari administration has in the last three years seized over 182 properties, some of which have been forfeited permanently to the Federal Government and handed over to agencies.
Some of the agencies which received the properties included: Voice of Nigeria, Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate, and the Presidential Initiative on the North-East
A mansion located at 6, Ogun River Crescent, Maitama, and a complex located at Plot 1386, Uda Crescent, Wuse 2 formerly owned by the late former Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh (retd.), were handed over to PINE and VON respectively.
Another seized property, Briffina Hotel, Garki Area 1, once owned by Dr Sani Teidi, a former director of Pension Accounts, Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, who is standing trial before Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Federal High Court, Abuja, for alleged N18.3bn fraud, was handed over to PTAD.