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Speaker of the House of Representative, Femi Gbajabiamila has said the country is currently at war and will need more funding

ByDavies

May 19, 2021
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Speaker of the House of Representative, Femi Gbajabiamila

• Speaker of Parliament said the military needs more funding to tackle security challenges

• Defence Headquarters said the military will need not less than $2 billion annually to tackle insecurity


• Governors from opposition PDP have called on Buhari to tackle the rising insecurity

Speaker of the House of Representative, Femi Gbajabiamila has said the country is currently at war and will need more funding to fight the rising insecurity challenges.

Speaker Gbajabiamila said the current challenges in the country have made extra funding for the military necessary. He spoke at a public hearing on a bill seeking to establish a special trust fund for the Armed Force

His reaction comes as the Defence Headquarters said at the same hearing that the military will need not less than $2 billion annually for the next three years, making $6 billion, to effectively tackle the growing security crises across the country.

These came a day after governors elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently convene the Nigerian Police Council, NPC, meeting to deliberate on workable solutions to the insecurity challenges facing the country, according to Vanguard.ng

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the hearing, the speaker said tackling insecurity in the country requires various remedies, adding that there is need for the military to be better equipped through the bill.

He said: “Even with these extensive and wider examination of our security challenges; we cannot exclude the need for and benefit of a well-equipped and better-trained military in the fight against all forms of insecurity.

Nigeria at war — Gbaja

“It is a historic fact that countries during war times do not fund their military through regular appropriations alone. From the USA, to the United Kingdom and all Western powers; their military are funded through extra-budgetary means during periods of war.

“Nigeria is at war against insurgency, terrorism, kidnapping and all manner of insecurity; hence the need to uplift the resources available to our armed services to enable them procure the best tools to help win this war. So, what we seek to do in this bill is not new or unique to us as a nation.

“The solution to our security challenges requires asymmetric actions across many policy areas. This is what we have tried to do as the representatives of the people. The concept of a trust fund already exists for the Nigerian Police.

“It only makes sense to also bolster our military capability as well through this unique vehicle. In this bill, the board of the trust fund is full of eminent Nigerians from all walks of life; this should give confidence to all of the depth of knowledge and experience that will be available to manage this fund. The National Assembly will equally play its part in over sighting this work of this Trust Fund.”

Chairman of the House Committee on Defence, Babajimi Benson, earlier in his welcome address, said “the bill seeks to explore alternative sources of funding for the Armed Forces of Nigeria in addition to the annual budgetary allocations.

Armed Forces need more funds

He said: ‘’The need for alternative/additional sources of funding for our Armed Forces has become even more apparent, considering the myriad of security challenges facing the country.

“Also, only approximately nine per cent of annual budgetary allocation is available for capital expenditure. A large chunk goes for recurrent expenditure. This bill is therefore very crucial for our Armed Forces and thus, the calibre of its sponsors.

“Currently, the Armed Forces of Nigeria receives its funding mainly through annual appropriations made by the National Assembly. In recent times, the Armed Forces of Nigeria has continued to expand both in terms of personnel and the provision of platforms, weaponry and equipment to sustain its ever-increasing operations.

“Efforts in the past by the Armed Forces of Nigeria to procure the needed military hardware and provide requisite training to meet the challenges currently being faced has hit the brickwall due to limited financial resources. This also underscores the immense importance of this bill.”

The bill seeks a law to set aside for the Armed Forces an amount constituting of one percent of the total money accruing to the Federation Account, 0.5 percent of profit made from investment of the National Sovereign Wealth Fund, NSWF, by the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority, NSIA, an amount constituting one per cent of Value Added Tax, VAT, remitted to the Consolidated Revenue Fund, CFR, among others.

At the public hearing, the Defence Headquarters said it will take the Nigerian military $2 billion annually for the next three years to effectively tackle the growing security crises across the country.

Armed Forces need $2bn annually

Director of Production, Defence Headquarters, Air Vice Marshall M. A. Yakubu, who disclosed this, said the country will have to budget not less than $2bn annually and consecutively for at least three years to be able to make the Armed Forces efficient. He said the annual N100bn being projected to be an additional fund to the Armed Forces will still leave them underfunded.

Yakubu said: “The last time, about two weeks ago, we had a brief discussion of what we intend to generate from this. We are estimating something in the range of N100bn per annum. Convert that to dollars, because virtually all the equipment is imported. This will go nowhere, and it would not address the problem we are seeking to address unless we expand the sources.

“Nigerians, I know, are tired of being asked to pay for something. The level of poverty is severe. However, nobody wants to sleep with only one eye closed. Everybody is scared of travelling on the roads because of insecurity.

READ ALSO: Security agencies alone can’t fight Insecurity — Gbajabiamila“Therefore, I will urge that all stakeholders must educate citizens to understand the need to sacrifice because if we do not do that to address this problem, sincerely speaking, it will continue to be a mirage.

“If we are not able to raise a minimum of $2bn per annum in the next three years for a start, subsequently maybe we can begin to taper down the percentages; but for a start, we need a bulk sum because many of these manufacturers of equipment require 100 per cent down payment to even start production.

“So, you cannot sign a contract, for example, with the US manufacturers, and pay 15 per cent mobilisation as required by the Procurement Act. Nobody will look at you; their terms must be followed.

“Many times we are asked to pay 100 per cent. An example is the Super Tucano. This one is on a government-to-government (basis). They insist on 100 per cent payment within 30 days. No budgetary allocation will fund that.”

The AVM noted that he is conversant with procurement and logistics in the military, with his experience of being a Defence Attaché with the United States from 2014 to 2017, Director of Procurement at the headquarters of the Nigerian Air Force for another two years, and Chief of Logistics, also at the headquarters of the NAF for another two years.

“Every year, how do we get our budget, capital budget specifically? An arbitrary envelope is simply thrown at us. This year, for example, your budget cap should be N20bn. It does not take into consideration what the actual needs are; what do you need to meet those needs? Now that is one.

“Secondly, we are all aware of the exchange rate fluctuations. We have run into problems where even working with approved budget envelopes, we have gone ahead to sign contracts for procurement of equipment and suddenly, the exchange rate collapses on us and we are unable to fund it.

“We have found ourselves every year running back to the Federal Government for interventions. This is not sustainable.”

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