$1bn insurgency fund: Learn from Jonathan’s mistakes, SERAP tells Buhari

A human rights advocacy group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has advised President Muhammadu to be careful not to fall into the same error as his predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan, as regarding the funding and management of information on the Boko Haram insurgency war.

The group’s advice came on the heels of the approval of $1bn for the anti-terrorism war by the National Economic Council.

The money is to be drawn from the Excess Crude Account.

In a statement made available to Blueprint Sunday by its Deputy Director, Timothy Adewale, SERAP urged Buhari to urgently explain to Nigerians the rationale behind such an allocation when the government itself had consistently claimed that the Boko Haram insurgents had been defeated.

The group said Buhari would do well to address Nigerians on the approved $1bn particular as the corruption allegations stemming from the alleged diversion of the $2.1bn approved by Jonathan had yet to be resolved.

SERAP regretted that the Buhari government had not been communicating adequately with the citizens on decisions which it claimed to be taking on behalf of the masses.

The statement read in part, “Nigerians should have some sense of what it is the government is doing in our name, especially against the background of the declaration by the authorities that the anti-insurgency war has ended and the Boko Haram terror group defeated, as well as the unresolved questions on how over $2bn was spent by former Jonathan administration to fight Boko Haram. The government also ought to tell Nigerians whether and how the legal requirements for approving the extra-budgetary allocations were met.

“As a government presumably pursuing a change-agenda, Buhari should do things differently from the Jonathan administration including by proactively engaging the Nigerian people in an honest conversation about the fight against Boko Haram and the use of the public funds so far invested to prosecute it.

“The Nigerian people do not have sufficient information at hand to evaluate, much less influence, the government’s policies, strategies and funding to end Boko Haram insurgency.

“Nigerians need to know the level of success that has been recorded against Boko Haram, and the security situation in the North-East, as well as the amount of public funds that have been invested to combat terrorism.

“The success of Nigerian constitutional democracy ultimately depends upon an informed citizenry. The government should, therefore, emphasise transparency over secrecy on the spending on Boko Haram.

“Buhari should keep Nigerians up-to-date about what he’s doing to end Boko Haram, including by explaining why $1bn is needed at this time to fight the insurgency.”

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