About N500 million in funds set aside for the inauguration ceremony of President Muhammadu Buhari has gone missing, according to reports.
The money, which is meant for the payment of ushers and other service providers, was allegedly cornered by a member of the presidential transition committee, according to The Nation.
The ushers, numbering about 50, are said to have been left stranded in Abuja due to the non-payment of their wages.
Also being owed are some traditional artistes hired to perform at the event while about N300million incurred as “aviation-related expenditure” has also reportedly been left unpaid.
The money for the payments was said to have been released to an official who decided to use it as an “exit package,” The Nation adds in its report.
“We do not know the whereabouts of over N500million meant to settle some bills. Some members of the inauguration committee have bolted away with it,” a source said.
“In fact out of the N500million, there is an embarrassing debt of about N300million which is yet to be settled. The aviation-related expenses had to do with the movement of facilities for visiting Heads of State and foreign dignitaries. We are busy shuttling between the Office of the SGF and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with no one claiming responsibility,” the source added.
“If the government scrutinizes the records of other sub-committees, more dirty deals will be uncovered. Some inauguration committee members took advantage of the outgoing administration to divert public funds,” he said.
The source spoke further on the predicament of the ushers saying:
“We engaged over 150 ushers, especially unemployed graduates and married women, but there is no money to pay them. We had votes for the payment of the stipends but some officials diverted same. The ushers are stranded, they do not know who to contact for their stipends. Those who recruited them have left office.”
“It is sad that we stayed under the scorching sun for hours without being paid our stipends. This is just unfortunate. We want the new administration to look into the diversion of stipends meant for innocent citizens like us,” one of the ushers said.
Buhari was sworn in on Friday, May 29, and a sum of N2.7billion was budgeted for the ceremony.