Nigeria’s President Bola Tinubu bans foreign trips by government officials

Source: BBC 

Nigeria’s President Bola Tinubu will introduce a three-month ban on ministers and other government officials from going on publicly funded foreign trips.

Mr Tinubu’s chief of staff said the move was prompted by the president’s “concerns about the rising cost of travel expenses” by public officials.

The ban will take effect on 1 April.

President Tinubu and his administration have been criticised by some for their frequent visits abroad.

Since his inauguration in May, Mr Tinubu has made more than 15 foreign trips.

The Nigerian president is said to have spent at least 3.4bn naira ($2.2m; £1.8m) on domestic and foreign travel in the first six months of his presidency – 36% more than the budgeted amount for 2023, the Nigerian newspaper Punch reported in January, citing GovSpend, a civic tech platform that tracks government spending.

Mr Tinubu’s chief of staff Femi Gbajabiamila said the travel ban will cut costs amid Nigeria’s “current economic challenges and the need for responsible fiscal management”.

The West African country is grappling with one of its worst cost-of-living crises in decades, a situation that has led to widespread hardship and anger.

The three-month block on official travel by government officials is Mr Tinubu’s latest attempt at countering the public backlash.

In January, the Nigerian president announced a reduction in the size of the official travel delegation by about 60% , including cuts to his own travel entourage.

When the ban takes effect in April, government officials will only go on foreign trips “deemed absolutely necessary”. They will also require President Tinubu’s approval at least two weeks before they travel.

Mr Gbajabiamila added that the halt on travel will ensure that government officials “focus on their respective mandates for effective service delivery”.

Despite clamping down on travel by government officials, Mr Tinubu has not said whether he will reduce his own trips.

The president and his representatives have in the past defended his trips as being vital in addressing the economic problems he is accused of ignoring.

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