Peter Obi, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP) in the 2023 general elections, has criticized President Bola Tinubu for undertaking a publicly funded 'private' visit to France.
President Tinubu on Wednesday departed Abuja for France, a trip the State House described as a “private visit”.
However, sources told SaharaReporters that the trip was for medical leave.
“President Bola Tinubu departs Abuja for Paris, France, on Wednesday, January 24, 2024, for a private visit.
“He will return to the country in the first week of February, 2024,” Chief Ajuri Ngelale, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, said in a statement released on Wednesday.
“It is a medical leave because the so-called private visit is for the President to see his doctors in France,” a Presidency source told SaharaReporters on Wednesday.
However, Obi in a statement on Thursday said he had been wondering what could be considered private for a sitting President who is not on vacation.
He noted that the foreign visit should be done at his expense and not at public cost.
Obi asserted that the President is now a public national asset, adding that all his movements should be public knowledge and a matter of public interest.
He explained that it is part of the cost-cutting measures desperately needed by the nation now.
He wrote,"Just yesterday, I saw a heart-wrenching sight of a physically challenged traveller in a wheelchair being carried up the stairs by four men, at the Nnamdi Azikiwe airport, Abuja because neither the elevator nor the escalator had been functional, for the past 3 months.
"The situation becomes more disturbing when you imagine that such is happening in our nation's capital, where our dignitaries and foreign investors travel through constantly. This was the same Airport and the same day that our dear President flew out on a private visit.
"I have been wondering what is private for a sitting President who is not on vacation to embark on a publicly funded ‘private’ visit.
"May I humbly remind the President that he is now a public national asset.
"Therefore, all his movements now should be public knowledge and matters of public interest. Even when he needs a private visit like a holiday, family gathering, etc, he should state so, which is graciously allowed, but private visits, like the one he has embarked on now, should be done at his expense and not at public cost.
"That is part of the cost-cutting measures desperately needed by the nation now. We now require savings of sorts to deal with every little issue that requires attention, like the maintenance of small public assets.
"Otherwise, how do we explain as a country, that for the past three months both the escalator and elevator at the domestic wing of Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport, Abuja, have remained dysfunctional?
"I often wonder how we the leaders feel traveling in sophisticated manners while the majority of our infrastructure being used by the majority, including our foreign investors, is left dilapidated.
"The situation we find ourselves in calls for such drastic cuts in the cost of governance, and attendant savings, to be appropriately used for every minor public good. That is the spirit of the New Nigeria we are clamoring for.”
"I must however acknowledge some efforts by the President to cut costs like his recent 60% cost on travel but that is still insignificant given the quantum of problems waiting to be tackled like the elevator issue in our prime airport," the statement added.