In a bid to curb leakages and ensure efficiency in the management of government resources, President Muhammadu Buhari has approved additional cost-saving measures aimed at instilling financial discipline and prudence, particularly in the area of official travels.
Henceforth, according to a statement by the director of information in the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF), Willie Bassey, all ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) are required to submit their yearly travel plans for statutory meetings and engagements to the OSGF and/or the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation (OHCSF) for express clearance within the first quarter of the fiscal year, before implementation.
According to him, they are further required to make their presentation using the existing template and also secure approvals on specific travels as contained in the plan, from the appropriate quarters.
On the nature and frequency of travels, he said all public-funded travels (local and foreign) are strictly for official purposes and shall be backed with documentary evidence. In this regard, all foreign travels must be for highly essential statutory engagements that are beneficial to the country.
“Except with the express approval of Mr. President, ministers permanent secretaries, chairmen of extra-ministerial departments, chief executive officers and directors are restricted to not more than two foreign travels in a quarter.
“Also, when a minister is at the head of an official delegation, the size of such delegation shall not exceed four, including the relevant director, schedule officer and one (1) aide of the minister. Every other delegation below ministerial level shall be restricted to a maximum of three.
“For class of air travels, the president has approved that ministers, permanent secretaries, special advisers, senior special assistants to the president, chairmen of extra-ministerial departments and chief executive officers of parastatals are entitled to continue to fly Business Class while other categories of public officers are to travel on Economy Class.
“Also, travel days will no longer attract payment of estacode allowances as duration of official trips shall be limited to only the number of days of the event as contained in the supporting documents to qualify for public funding.
“The auditor-general of the federation has been directed to treat all expenditures that contravene these guidelines as ineligible,” he added.
Launches 2020 Armed Forces Remembrance Emblem
Meanwhile, the president yesterday launched the 2020 Armed Forces Remembrance Day Emblem and Appeal Fund at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Speaking during the launch, Buhari urged Nigerians not to forget those currently engaged in internal security operations, particularly the on-going war against insurgency in some parts of the country.
He noted that it was indeed befitting to honour the memory of the gallant officers and men who paid the supreme sacrifice to keep the country united.
For those who survived with varying degrees of incapacitation, Buhari said they require attention and care, assuring that the government will continue to provide and cater for them.
He explained that the Armed Forces Remembrance Day celebration was intentionally fixed for January 15 annually to commemorate the end of the civil war.
“It reminds us of the need to guard jealously the unity of our country which was won at a great cost.
“This day calls to mind the negative impact of strife and conflicts and demands that, as responsible citizens, we must at all times avoid actions that emphasize our differences.
“There is no doubt that the strength of Nigeria lies in her diversity. It behoves us, therefore, to engage in activities and endeavours that feed our diversity as a source of strength, not weakness,” he said.
The president further stated that the nation valued the gallantry and sacrifices of officers and men of the Armed Forces in the campaign against insurgency and other internal security operations.
According to him, the sacrifices of these security personnel has led to the return of normalcy in affected parts of the nation and the substantial degrading of the Boko Haram terrorists, who have now resorted to attacking soft targets.
He charged all Nigerians to cooperate in efforts towards checking the attacks on soft targets, mostly innocent Nigerians, adding that the peace and security of citizens is non-negotiable and the security agencies must continue to do their work diligently.
Buhari added that his administration would continue to provide necessary logistical support to ensure that the Armed Forces operate with the best modern warfare equipment, while at the same time adequately addressing the issues of their welfare.
He further asserted that his government would remain steadfast in developing alliances with neighbours and friends in the international community for the total defeat of the insurgents.
He added that the task of resettling and rehabilitating citizens as well as the reconstruction of territories affected by the war would continue to be one of the priorities of his administration.
“We shall not rest until all our displaced persons are safely resettled into their communities without fear of further attacks. It is for this reason that the North East Development Commission and Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development were established.
“The executive arm of government hereby commends the National Assembly for the passage of the Bill establishing the Commission.
“It is our hope that with prudent management of limited resources and support from well-meaning Nigerians and corporate bodies, the Commission, working in close collaboration with the ministry and friends abroad, will be able to deliver on their mandate.
“We are aware that it is the business of government to provide the enabling environment for businesses to thrive. We will not fail to provide our citizens with an atmosphere that is devoid of security threats and criminality, where life is stable and progress is certain.
“Government is also well aware that an insecure environment stifles businesses and undermines growth and prosperity. For this reason, we will like to commend and reinforce our gratitude to our men and women in the Armed Forces who have risen to the challenge of securing our nation and providing enabling environment for national progress,” the president said.
He further noted that the unfortunate cost of the war against insurgency and other internal security operations is the loss of lives of some officers and men in the Armed Forces.
The president explained ‘these very sad occurrences create deep wounds to loved ones’.
“It is, therefore, our duty to ensure that the loss of these bread winners does not relegate the spouses and dependents to a life of want and deprivation. Government will do all in its powers to look after the bereaved.
“Service leaders must take urgent steps to settle the entitlements of these affected citizens as well as the welfare packages designed for their dependants. It is the responsibility of government to ensure that the families of our fallen heroes do not suffer the loss of their loved ones and at the same time be deprived of their due benefits.
“To ensure that our veterans continue to share the comradeship that existed while in Service and adequately cater for their welfare at exit, the Federal Government established the Nigerian Legion. It is delightful to note that the Legion is carrying out initiatives in transportation, agriculture, housing and other ventures in partnership with the private sector.
“I am happy to note that the Legion has continued to be a rallying point of veterans and has done its part in catering for the welfare of their ailing members. I enjoin the leadership of the Legion to continue in this spirit. I also urge Nigerians to accord them the needed support, friendship and patronage,” he said.
Buhari directed that government agencies at the federal and state levels should continue to patronise services of Nigerian Legion Corps of Commissionaires in the provision of security services.