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Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Nigerian govt blasts critics of $1bn fund for Boko Haram war, militancy, others

Nigerian Government has described the
criticisms trailing the approval of $1bn for
the fight against insurgency and other
violent crimes in the country as
unnecessary and unhelpful.
Minister of Information, Culture and
Tourism, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, at a news
conference in Lagos, said the Nigerian
Governor’s Forum acted wisely in
approving the fund from the Excess Crude
Account based on the need to properly
fund security operations in the country to
adequately respond to threats by Boko
Haram and other criminals.
Mohammed pointed out that the approved
fund was not to fight Boko Haram in the
North East alone but also to tackle
kidnapping, cattle rustling, illegal oil
bunkering and other crimes.
He expressed dismay that an action
intended to make the country safer had
been subjected to attacks by people with
ulterior motives.
“There has been an unnecessary,
uninformed and highly-partisan criticism
of the one billion dollars which was
recently approved by the Nigeria Governors
Forum for the military to tackle the
security challenges facing the country,
including Boko Haram, illegal oil
bunkering, kidnapping and cattle rustling.
“I said unnecessary and uninformed
because everyone knows the role the
military is playing in helping to tackle the
numerous security crisis facing the states,
much less the war against Boko Haram.
“The fact that Boko Haram has been
largely degraded does not mean the war is
over. As we have said times without
number, asymmetric wars like the one
against Boko Haram do not end with an
armistice.
“It is, therefore, curious that some of those
who have criticised the $1bn approval
have hinged their argument on the fact
that the Boko Haram has been degraded.
“Perhaps also, the critics do not know that
fighting an asymmetric war is costlier than
fighting a conventional war. In any case,
wars, especially the war against terror, are
never fought with budgetary provisions.
“It is common knowledge that the annual
budgetary allocation to the military is not
commensurate with the internal security
challenges we face, for which we have had
to continuously rely on the military to
assist the police and the Civil Defence
Corps.
“When insurgents take over a chunk of our
nation’s territory, we turn to the military.
When the farmers/herders clash escalate,
we turn to the military. When kidnappers
up their game, we turn to the military,
when illegal bunkerers and pipeline
vandals are seeking to overwhelm our oil
production and export, we turn to the
military,
“When ethno-religious clashes occur, we
turn to the military. But when it is time to
give the military the resources it needs to
function, we say it is a waste of scarce
resources. We come up with spurious
reasons to deny the military its due.
“The Nigeria Governors Forum acted wisely
in approving the withdrawal of one billion
dollars from the Excess Crude Account to
fight Boko Haram and other security
challenges in the country.
“The one billion dollars is not too much to
fight our security challenges. Afterall,
security of lives and property is at the core
of the existence of any government, and
the NGF understands this quite well, going
by its action in approving the withdrawal
from the ECA”, he said.
Further justifying the approval, the
Mohammed said military operations in the
North East cost the country a lot of
money.
He said the aircraft being used for the war,
including fighter jets and helicopters
altogether consumed 64,021.08 litres of
fuel per day amounting to N15.153m daily
to fuel the aircraft.
The minister said that spares for the
aircraft from January to November 2017
cost a total of N20,019m while
consumables for the aircraft, and here I
am talking of engine oil, plugs etc,
amounted to N 3.86m monthly.
Mohammed said that between November
5th to December 17th, the amount spent
on ammunition was over $5m.
“Since we are using the air force as a
reference point here, what about the cost
of acquiring air force platforms? For
example, the twelve Super Tuscano aircraft
recently approved for sale to Nigeria by
the US Government costs a whopping
$490m, yet this is Government to
Government contract and the costs of
spares, ammunition and other
consumables are not included.
“The costs stated above are for the air
force alone and restricted to operations in
the North East alone.
“We have not even talked of the army or
the navy, which are also fully involved in
tackling internal security challenges in the
country. Neither have we included the
operating cost of the Nigerian Air Force in
the Niger Delta to curb pipeline vandalism,
in the North West to contain cattle
rustlers, in the North Central to curtail
herdsmen and farmers clashes or
kidnappings, armed robberies and
separatism in other parts of the country,”
the minister said.
Mohammed said there was nothing wrong
in the opposition offering constructive
criticism as democracy allowed freedom of
expression.
He, however, said freedom of expression
was not a licence for anyone to distort
facts, engage in crass sensationalism or
bring partisanship to every issue,
especially that concerned security of the
nation.
The minister said those who viewed this
one billion-dollar approval by the NGF
from the prism of partisanship were wrong,
cautioning that the military was arguably
undoubtedly the most national of the
country’s institutions and hence should
not be dragged into partisanship.

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