The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has accused critics of the approval of the release of one billion dollars from the Excess Crude Account to fight Boko Haram of “unnecessary, uninformed and highly-partisan criticism”, adding that they “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.”
Justifying the amount, the minister disclosed that counter-terror fighter jets consumed 64,021.08 litres of fuel per day amounting to N15.153m daily, adding that N20.19 million was spent on spare parts for the jets between January and November.
“I am talking of engine oil, plugs etc, amounted to N3.86m monthly,” he said at a press conference in Lagos.
Mohammed also revealed that between November 5 and December 17, 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 $490 million, 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”, he said.
Toeing the line of Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, Mohammed also explained that the approved fund was not to fight Boko Haram alone, but also to tackle kidnapping, cattle rustling, illegal oil bunkering and other crimes.
“There has been an unnecessary, uninformed and highly-partisan criticism of the one billion dollars which was recently approved by the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) for the military to tackle the security challenges facing the country, including Boko Haram, illegal oil bunkering, kidnapping and cattle rustling,” Mohammed said.
“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.
“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”, he added.
Mohammed noted that the military was also involved in quelling ethno-religious clashes, insurgency, kidnapping, pipeline vandalism, but “we come up with spurious reasons to deny the military its due”.
“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.
“The $1 billion 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”, the minister stated.
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