Tackling insecurity in 2022: With N12trn budget in 7 yrs, Nigerians set agenda for troops, others



 

Not less than N12trillion was budgeted for security in the last seven years (2016-2022), Blueprint can authoritatively reveal.

The revelation is coming amidst rising insecurity with Nigerians calling on the troops, police and other security agencies to step up in the fight against insurgency, banditry, kidnapping, farmers/ herders’ clashes and related crimes.

Breakdown

Blueprint gathered that in 2016, N1.04 trillion was budgeted  out of which N443.1billion was allocated to Ministry of Defence; in  2017, N1.053 trillion was appropriated for security-related outfits out of which Ministry of Defence got  N330.54 billion.

A further breakdown showed that in 2018, over N1.305 trillion was appropriated for security-related sector aside $1billion withdrawn from excess crude oil account, out of which $496 million was used for procurement of 12 Tucano fighter jets from the United States of America. 

In the 2019 fiscal year, budgetary allocations to security-related agencies  jumped to N1.76 trillion from which  the Ministry of Interior got  N617.9 billion, Defence – N589.9 billion, Police-N366 billion, Operation Lafiya Dole – N75 billion, and Office of the National Security Adviser got N120 billion.

Also in 2020, the security vote was increased to N1.78 trillion, while it was moved up to N1.97 trillion in 2021 aside the N802 billion added from the N983 billion supplementary budget, which was later approved for President Muhammadu Buhari.

Besides, in the 2021 fiscal year, a total of N85 billion was approved for Police Trust Fund – N11billion in March and N74 billion in June.

And in the N17.13 trillion Budget for the 2022 current fiscal year, a total of N2.41 trillion, representing 15% of the entire budgetary projections, was earmarked for security and defence.

The figure represents an increase of about N1.37 trillion from N1.04 trillion it was in 2016.

In all, from 2016 to the already projected 2022, about N12 trillion has been sunk into security/defence as budgetary vote arising from prevailing security challenges in the country.

There are mixed reactions over the military budget.

While some told Blueprint that the sum is not only justified but also well spent, others differ, saying there is no justification for it and therefore called for accountability.   

It’s justifiable – Military source

Efforts by Blueprint to get Army Headquarters’ comment failed as text message sent to the spokesman, Brigadier-General Onyema Nwachuckwu was not responded to.

However, a military source who volunteered to speak under anonymitysaid “no amount is too much for a military that is at war on many fronts.”

The top military chief said the fact the troops are deployed to over 33 states further justifies the huge budgetary allocation to the military over the years.

“The money is justified because Nigeria is at war and the military must prosecute the war with superior firepower in order to emerge victorious. The myriads of security challenges across the country ranging from insurgency in the North-east, banditry in the North-west, kidnapping and all manner of insecurity across the country has made extra funding for the military necessary.

“No amount is too much for a military that is at war, hence the need to uplift the resources available to our armed forces to enable them procure the best tools to help win this war. Don’t forget that the military is helping the police in 33 states across Nigeria and the Federal Capital Territory to combat internal security challenges,” the source said.

 On whether the monies appropriated over the years were well spent, the source said:  “The money appropriated has been well spent and for the things we are doing, a lot has to do with funding to solve a lot of problems that our troops are facing in the North-east, North-west and North-central.

“Our country is going through very challenging times and the armed force is at the forefront of resolving the challenges that we are facing. And for any armed forces to function effectively they need equipment, they need capabilities.”

FG lauds troops

Also speaking on the feats achieved by the military at a recent media parley in Lagos, Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed said the Nigerian military should be applauded. 

He said: “Despite the enormity of the challenge, our military has continued to live up to their billing. We owe them a debt of gratitude for their patriotism and sacrifice. We just can’t appreciate them enough, as you will soon see when I break down their achievements in the year under review.”

The minister who reeled out the various operational teams set up by the military hierarchy and the achievements  recorded across the country, said various platforms were procured for the armed forces to ensure efficient operations across the country. 


Mohammed, who spoke mainly on the activities in 2021 said: “The procurement of modern platforms for the armed forces has also gone a long way in raising the level of their operational readiness and efficiency, in addition to boosting their capabilities. During the period under review, the Nigerian Army procured 160 MRAPS, 150 trucks and 60 APCs to improve its equipment holding. Various kits were equally provided for troops. This is in addition to the provision of accommodation for troops and the recruitment of over 10,000 personnel into the Army.

“The Nigerian Navy (NN), for its part, commissioned the FALCON EYE Maritime Domain Awareness Capability, the third locally-built Seaward Defense Boat, one helicopter, 4 inshore patrol boats and 90 Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats. Over 1,500 personnel were recruited into the Navy during the year.

“The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) took delivery of 12 Super Tucanos and 3 JF-17 Thunder Fighter Aircraft and other platforms with which it has conducted several Air interdictions, provided close air support to ground troops and destroyed several illegal structures and equipment belonging to terrorists, bandits and other criminal elements.”

Police equipment

The minister also spoke on the federal government’s spending on the police.

He said: “The implementation of the community policing initiative of the current administration has led to the training of 25,000 constabularies in several police colleges across the country. The successful officers who were trained on basic police duties, modern intelligence gathering techniques, rule of law, etc. were deployed to their local governments of origin to aid in intelligence gathering and improve police visibility in their communities.

“Also, in an effort to improve the police/citizens ratio, 418 Cadet officers of regular course 3 were successfully graduated in June 2021 and deployed into the operational asset of the Nigeria Police Force. Through the Police Trust Fund, 200 Buffalo branded vehicles, bulletproof vest, protective helmets, drugs, and medical equipment as well as arms and ammunition, riot control equipment, and combat equipment were procured for the Police Special Weapon and Tactical Squad (SWAT). The Ministry of Police Affairs has also entered into a contract agreement for the supply of police Anti Riot Equipment with Poly Technology of China through a Government-to-Government arrangement at a cost of 44 million U.S. Dollars. These equipment will go a long way in boosting the capacity of the police to control civil unrest in the most efficient and civil manner.”

APC chieftain

Similarly, Director General Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) Salihu Moh Lukman, said unlike the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)’s administration, the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led government of President Muhammadu Buhari, has invested heavily in weaponry and equipment. 

Lukman said: “Hundreds of new platforms are being acquired for the Army, Air Force and Navy. The Nigeria Air Force has received 23 new aircraft since 2015, including the newly acquired A-29 Tucano jets. The Navy has similarly acquired its first new Landing Ship Tank (LST) since 1979. 

“The administration has also launched a Nigeria Police Trust Fund. Sadly, public discussion in the country is taking place as if nothing is being done. Opposition politicians and critics of government have even argued that these are wrong investments. Some have argued that rather than invest in acquiring arms, including the A-29 Tucano jets, government should have recruited more military personnel.

“There is no doubt that Nigeria needs more military personnel, just like the country needs more police personnel. Some security experts have suggested that to end the war against Boko Haram insurgency in the North-East, there is the need to deploy not less than 200,000 ground troops. Now, there is less than 50,000 ground troops in the whole of the North-East, which is partly responsible for the inability to hold on to liberated territories after defeating Boko Haram insurgents. 

“Without doubt, government has succeeded in strengthening the capacity of Nigerian security personnel across all services to be able to respond to national security challenges in all parts of the country. The fact that Nigeria is still faced with the current security challenge arising from activities of terrorists and insurgents requires deeper introspection from citizens.”

Experts 

Faulting the positions, however, a security analyst, Dr Charles Nwankpa, said rather than abating, the security challenges were on the rise despite the huge investment.

Nwankpa agreed that huge budgetary allocation was needed in the defence and security sector to address the current security challenges facing the country.

He, however, said insurgency, banditry, kidnappings and other crimes violent crimes were on the increase in spite of huge resources allocated to the sector, just as he accused the military authorities of misappropriation of funds.

He said: “It is unfortunate that the spate of insecurity in the polity has continued to worsen in spite of huge budgetary allocations to the sector over the years. There is no doubt that funds are required to provide adequate weapons, replace old equipment, take care of welfare of personnel in frontline, as well as gather actionable intelligence.  But successive military authorities have not been able to account for the huge resources allocated to the sector. There is need to give account.

“Despite huge expenditures on military operations over the years, security remains deteriorating as a result of bad governance, corruption in the military and lack of transparent procurement process. As I speak with you, some of them are currently being investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and other anti-graft agencies. We have heard report of nonpayment or diversion of allowances of troops in the frontline in the past.

“The deteriorating security situation of country also begs for answer. Nowhere is safe. We have been fighting insurgency in the north east for more than 10 years now; bandits have taken over the North-west with some of them collecting taxes and levies from locals. There are also rampant incidents of kidnapping, highway robberies and other violent crimes.

“As a matter of fact, no part of the country is exempted from the raging insecurity. Nigerians cannot sleep with their two eyes closed. Nigerians have become fugitives in their country owing to escalating insecurity. There are Internally Displaced Person’s Camp (IDPs) camps everywhere.”

 Sharing similar perspectives, another Abuja-based security expert, Olatunbosun Abolarinwa, faulted what he described has huge budgetary allocations for security and defence in the last seven years.

In his view, “the amount expended so far is huge but the results and gains do not justify nor reflect the expenditures.”

On what should be done differently, the security expert said: “Government and Security Agencies should start shifting away from ‘kinetic approaches’ and start engaging insecurity from strategic approaches.

“The federal government should caution and sanction politicians who appears to be inciting violence in their speeches and probe how security vote is being spent in all arms of government.”

Ex-OATUU scribe, CSOs

Speaking in similar vein, a former Secretary General, Organisation of African Trade Union Unity (OATUU), Owei Lakemfa said security is not about mere budgeting and funds but about intelligence, strategy, tactics and the involvement of the populace. 

He said there is a “leaky attitude to budgeting, therefore, accountability is not a strong point.” Lakemfa, who recalled $1billion was released to the immediate past service chiefs for arms purchase, said the arms could not be accounted for.

“Effective security is about social justice and the mobilisation of the populace to meet security threats. The Armed Forces should also not be presented as the preserve of groups and sections of the country.  Security is every citizen’s problem and should be tackled collectively,” he said.

Also, Convener Take Back Nigeria Movement and Co-Convener Say No Campaign Jaye Gaskia described the sum of N12 trillion as huge. 

“The quantum of the amount in terms of its quality is much more important. How much of this sum was spent on the technical and equipment part of the expense? What percentage was expended on salaries, personnel cost and overheads?

“So, the key question really is how much of this sum was spent on reequipping, on maintenance, on acquiring new platforms, and on enabling new strategic approaches to operations?

“And then there’s the question of whether there’s a security threat assessment undertaken, and whether on the basis of this assessment report, a comprehensive and integrated security response plan had been developed?

“Because, without a security threat assessment process and a security response plan development and implementation process in place, whatever the amount of money spent, it is not likely going to be enough to address the problem. It will simply be like fetching water in a basket – it is a wasteful approach, and solves no problem.

“So, what should be done differently? There’s a need for an inter agency security threat assessment process, and security response plan development process to be put in place and implementation.

“Take the NE(North-East) for instance, when the military is concentrating its forces in super bases to enhance and amplify their capacity to tackle armed terrorist groups-which they are doing effectively; civil authority-led by the police should also be concentrating on securing communities within the security conference provided by the super camp.

“Implicit in this is the need to coordinate between defence, police, internal security and other law enforcement agencies to enable a seamless security architecture and security response.

“The other, but also primary component is creating platforms to enable citizen ownership and role in ensuring their own security in their immediate locale.”

On his part, Executive Director Societal Safety Network (SSN) Abdulrahman Agboola charged President Buhari to hold service chiefs accountable and sack any appointee that failed to perform as expected.

Agbooola,  who spoke to one of our correspondents on the telephone said:  “Considering the complications we have in the country today, the government is battling with different forms of security challenges. When you look at the expenses on security since 2016 till today, and you look at the resultant effect on the war against insecurity in Nigeria, a lot of people will agree that the humongous amount of money expended cannot in any way be explained by the people that have handled those finances. There is no justification for such an amount based on the result we are seeing. 

“I am not saying the government is not doing its best to tame insecurity, but with the amount of money being mentioned, one will begin to wonder why insecurity persists.

“There is a particular problem in this administration, and the problem is that the president is not holding the people in charge of security responsibilities to account on the way and manner security issues are being managed. Going forward, there is a need for the president to take charge and take responsibility personally.

“On what they need to do differently, the security agencies need to improve on their reward and punishment system. Security personnel that are doing well in tackling security challenges should be rewarded and celebrated, to encourage others and them to do more, while those found wanting should be punished or sacked if need be, to serve as a deterrent. If this is encouraged, Nigeria will get the result.”

PDP faults FG

But contrary to the federal government’s position, the opposition PDP said there is nothing on ground to justify the N12 trillion budget for security/defence investment.

PDP National Publicity Secretary Debo Ologunagba in an exclusive interview with Blueprint said “progressively, we have been going in the negative direction.” 

 “What is more important to Nigerians is security? About N12 trillion has been budgeted for security/defence to tackle the myriads of security challenges in the last 5 years under the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led Federal Government and we are where we are. What it simply means is that progressively, we have been going in the negative direction. 

 “If you compare what happened under the PDP and what has happened under this government on security alone, the statistics show that this is an incompetent government, either complicity or unwilling to tackle the security challenges. Then you know why the result does not match input in terms of budgetary allocation. This is a reflection of APC,” Ologunagba said.  

 On what should be done differently to improve the security situation, the PDP spokesman said: “Perception is very important in everything you do. So the federal government must show in everything they do that indeed they want to tackle the security challenges. So what they need to do is that the President by his actions and body language should give directives to the service chiefs to clear the security challenges. And I guarantee you that it will be done because the Nigeria military is capable, they are smart, they are intelligent people and they are professionals, but they need command to get the job done.”

Also in another reaction, an Abuja resident, Jone Emmanuel lamented that “there is nothing to show of all the money the government spent on security and defence since 2016. It is highly unfortunate that despite the huge budget Nigerians are still not safe in most parts of the country.

“There is need for the Federal Government and even the security agencies to set a panel to probe where all the money went into.

“Talking about ways to ease Nigeria out of insecurity in 2022, I want to suggest an inter – agency collaboration. It appears most that collaboration is not there between security agencies. There is need for collaboration in 2022, this will help in terms of intelligence gathering and tackling the menace.”