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2023 BUDGET: Deja vu as Nigerian govt earmarks N1.35trn to fight terrorism, banditry



When President Muhammadu Buhari presented the 2023 budget proposal of N20.51trn on October 7 at the National Assembly, a curious aspect of the budget was the Federal Government earmarking a record N1.35trn for the continuous fight against Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorists, insurgency and banditry in the country.

During the budget presentation before a joint session of the National Assembly, Buhari revealed that the princely sum was in order to ensure the success of the war against this menace and to fulfil his oft-repeated promises that terrorism will end by December.

A breakdown of the figure showed that the Ministry of Defence and the Armed Forces were allocated over N1.248trn to fight Boko Haram, bandits and other anti-insurgency wars in the 2023 Appropriation Bill.

The Nigerian Army, Nigerian Air Force and the Nigerian Navy will get N638.1b, N174.4bn and N158.7bn, respectively, with the three forces getting the largest chunk of the military budget.

Out of the Nigerian Army’s N638.1bn budget, N581bn is for payment of salaries of personnel, N24.6bn was allocated for overhead and N32.3bn for capital.

The Nigerian Air Force on the other hand, was allocated N108.3bn for personnel cost, N15.4bn for overhead and N50.6bn for capital projects, while for the Nigerian Navy, N113.7bn will go to personnel cost, N19.7bn to overhead and N25.3bn for capital.

The Defence Headquarters, Abuja, was also captured with a budget of N84.7bn, out of which N80.086bn is for personnel, N2.1bn for overhead and N2.4bn for capital.

A deeper dive into the breakdown also revealed that among the capital projects of the Nigerian Army as captured in the budget include the purchase of arms and ammunition, including the purchase of three units of Magnus MF 212 surveillance attack aircraft at N2.7bn and three units of Bell UH 1D helicopter at N3,082,500,000.

The Nigerian Air Force, which is also acquiring arms and ammunition budgeted N2,099,016,682 for ‘balance payment for procurement of two AW109 Trekker helicopters; another N1,257,660,000 for ‘balance payment for periodic depot maintenance of three L-39ZA aircraft and another N27,302,804,065 for ‘additional payment for procurement of six T-129 attack helicopters.’

The NAF also plans to overhaul six Larzac engines of its Alpha Jet aircraft fleet at the cost of N346,273,056.

The Nigerian Navy, on its its part, plans to procure Ocea3X32 fast patrol boats, six special forces boats, six RHIBs, three fuel cleaning stations and four years of integrated logistics support for N9,163,226,200.

In his address at the budget presentation, Buhari revealed that his administration was fully committed to the security of lives and properties across the country.

“I assure you, insecurity, especially banditry and kidnapping, will be significantly curtailed before the end of this administration. We will redouble our efforts to ensure we leave a legacy of a peaceful, prosperous and secure nation,” he said.

Described as a “new” project in the budget, part of the allocation, according to Buhari, “is to be expended on fresh terrorism and other criminal cases filed in court by the ministry,” something many Nigerians seem not to quite agree with the President going by his administration’s reluctance to prosecute terror suspects, preferring to spend tax payers’ money to “rehabilitate and reradicalise” them.

In the last seven years that the Buhari administration has been on the saddle, the regime has fully demonstrated its willingness to prosecute terror suspects and even when they do, they end up doing so in a haphazard manner which often leaves a lot to be desired.

Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, has not shown the readiness of the Federal Government to carry out the prosecution of the suspects despite promises of doing so several times.

In an interview earlier in the year after the United Arab Emirates handed over a list of 400 Boko Haram financiers, Malami had said the Buhari government was not interested in naming and shaming the suspects.

He said the Federal Government would at the appropriate time, disclose their identities through a judicial process that would entail prosecution.

What makes this new budgetary allocation to fight Boko Haram and other forms of terrorism curious is the fact that since Buhari became president in 2015, humongous amounts of money has been appropriated for the fight against insurgency but it seems the fight has not been yielding positive results apart from endless promises.

READ ALSO:2023 BUDGET: EFCC, Police, Defence Ministry to spend N149m on newspapers

Meanwhile, the insurgents and bandits have continued to hold the country to ransom, striking at will, sending innocent Nigerians to their early graves, attacking public institutions, sacking communities and kidnapping at will.

Some roads in the country, especially in the North are no-go areas as bandits have made them their fortress.

Year in, year out, the Buhari government has continued to budget huge amounts to tackle the menace of insecurity in the country but it seems the monies are either not used for the purposes they were meant for, or they ended up in the wrong pockets.

Nigerians have been inundated with stories of military officers, especially those in the theater of war, crying out over their poor welfare packages and yet they were supposed to have been captured in the yearly budgets.

As it now stands, Nigerians have a sense of foreboding and deja vu over the N1.35trn budgeted to fight terrorism.

By Isaac Dachen

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