Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala - Minister of Finance
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala – Minister of Finance

WHEN President Goodluck Jonathan recently said the Federal Government will continue to place high premium on the development of a strong and efficient Armed Forces, including sustaining efforts at equipment modernization and lifting the morale and welfare of officers and soldiers, we could not help but wonder what the Nigerian Government and security authorities have been doing with all the yearly budgets for equipping, training and maintaining the Nigerian Defense.  President Jonathan, who further assured that his administration would provide the resources for the training and development of officers and soldiers, made this pronouncement during the closing ceremony of the Chief of Army Staff Conference held in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, where the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal AS Badeh represented him.
However, without mincing words, looking at the billions of Naira and dollars that are yearly budgeted and expended on defence-related expenditures in Nigeria, we would observe that these huge budgets do not justify the outputs we see on the ground. We have heard and seen so many complaints regarding the poorly-equipped status of the Nigerian Defence, which has contributed to its struggle and difficulty in curtailing the excesses of the Boko Haram sect and the insecurity situation in the country. We are then left to wonder what the yearly huge budgets for the Nigerian Defence are used for, especially when not much is known about how these budgets are expended.
The issue of transparency and accountability and its importance in Nigeria’s Defence yearly Budgets cannot be overemphasized. But often times, what we see is the opposite. And the usual language used is that “for security reasons”, details of expenditures of the Nigerian Defence Budgets are not advisable to be disclosed. And as such, all the “Security Votes” accrued to the various States Governments are never accounted for because the Executive Governments are not compelled by law to do so.  How and what they do with these Security Votes is their business and no one should ask questions. But in a situation where innocent lives and properties worth billions are lost every now and then, and the Security authorities are complaining of being ill-equipped, then the Government and those in authorities owes the Nigerian citizenry some explanations. The main players in the Nigerian ‘Defence industry’ comprises of the President, who by virtue of occupying this position is also the Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces. Others are the Minister of Defence and the Defence Ministry, the Armed Forces (which comprises of the Nigerian Army, Navy and the Air-force) and the ‘moribund’  Defence Industries Corporation.
Without a doubt, sound financial management of a country’s security sector is key to having efficient and effective security forces that are capable of responding to the population’s legitimate security needs. Deficiencies in the way the military budget and arms purchases are decided and controlled are likely to lead to higher levels of inefficient military expenditure and inappropriate weapons purchases. Such excessive military spending and arms imports flowing from weak budgetary and procurement processes fail to provide economic or security benefits, merely consuming scarce resources needed to address basic needs of the population. Lack of transparency in particular creates high vulnerability for corruption, especially in arms procurement processes. In many countries, the military tends to be one of the most corrupt sectors of government because of the level of ‘secrecy’ often observed by the players in this sector. For instance, Arms procurement, be it domestic and international, is especially subject to corruption, in both developed and developing countries.
Avoiding excessive, wasteful and corrupt military expenditures and procurement thus requires high levels of transparency and accountability in military budgeting and procurement processes. Such processes should adhere to government-wide financial management and oversight practices, within a rigorously-observed defence policy and planning framework. This includes adherence to Public Expenditure Management (PEM) principles of comprehensiveness, discipline, legitimacy, flexibility, predictability, contestability, honesty, information, transparency and accountability.
When we carefully consider the huge budget that yearly goes into the Nigerian Defence sector we would understand the reason why there is need for more transparency and accountability by those concerned. When the 2014 Budget was Presented by the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, she said out of a total budget of N4.962 trillion, the allocation to the Nigeria’s Defence sector took about 20 per cent, totalling N968.127 billion because of the growing insecurity situation in the country.
Out of the total provision for the sector, Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala said between January and April 2014, government had disbursed about N130.7 billion to relevant authorities, including the Nigerian Army, Navy, Air Force, Police, and Civil Defence. Of the disbursed figure, about N85.9 billion was to take care of the personnel costs of the agencies, which was handed to the military authorities for direct payment to their personnel. She said based on the president’s contingency last year, some money was also used for the payment of additional N24.8 billion, while another approval by the President of N3.8 billion was still being processed.
Assuring that government has done its best to disburse as and when due monies to agencies under the defence sector as needed for their operations, the minister said there were other requirements that needed extra allocation, including those for joint task force and special operations against terrorism. “No amount of budgetary provision can be enough for the military,” she said. “The military all over the world that engages in war does not always have enough, particularly in this new type of war against terror, which requires equipment to assist them. I don’t think the Nigerian military would be different from any other in the world in the same circumstance.” Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala said government needs to spend expeditiously to ensure the defence sector receives the right support to prosecute their counter-insurgency operations.
The truth is, for a nation that is not at war, Nigeria’s defence spending raises several critical concerns. The paradox of course is that the more government spends on defence, the more insecure Nigerians feel. Travelling within the country has become so perilous that it is now advisable to get a ‘security report’ of all towns and villages on our way before setting out. Today, all major defence related structures in Abuja, supposedly the safest place in the country are so barricaded that images of Baghdad and Kabul come to mind. If the state of our armed forces and defence apparatus are the way that they are in peace times, what would happen if (God forbid), Nigeria is faced with a major external threat? Or is it that the amorphous term, ‘defence’ is being used to pull wool over the eyes of Nigerians, while some few anointed people smile all the way to bank?
Allocation to the key government ministries and agencies under security and  defence got the lion’s share of the 2012 budget when compared to 2011 and 2010 shows  that from 2010 through to 2012, Nigeria would just spent around $84 billion, of which  $16 billon would be for security. The table below shows the Security Votes in Nigeria  between 2008-2013:
Budget Allocations for Security/Defence from 2008-2012
2008: N 444.6 billion (Umar Yar’Adua)
2009: N 233 billion (Umar Yar’Adua)
2010: N 264 (Umar Yar’Adua)
2011: N 348 billion (Goodluck Jonathan)
2012: N 921.91 billion (Goodluck Jonathan)
2013:N1.055 trillion (Goodluck Jonathan)
Nigeria has joined the league of countries that are known to spend a good chunk of their budgetary allocation on security. As a result of these challenges, Nigerian leaders have decided to tackle them by raising her Defence and Security Votes. Nigeria ranks 57 in the global rating on military expenditure. It occupies the seventh position in African while it is regarded as the largest spender in the West African sub-region. The ranking was based on Nigeria’s military expenditure in 2009, which also made her the seventh largest spender on the African continent. The country spent $1.864 billion or N233 billion in 2009, representing 0.90 percent of the Gross Development Production (GDP). Defence is a critical sector and has enjoyed favourable consideration in funding, especially in recent years. For instance, the sector got N264 billion in 2010 and this rose to N348 billion in 2011 budget. Unlike other sectors of the economy, military expenditure in Nigeria has gone up by over 50 percent compared to other sectors in recent times. It is anybody’s guess why budget allocations in key ministries and agencies especially security and defence has continued to get the lion’s share in the last few years. But analysts however wager that the rising budget spending for security over the years could have been influenced by a constellation of forces.
For instance, in 2008, the policy thrusts of the budget as presented by the late President Umaru Yar’Adua to the legislature on November 8, 2007, was supposedly reflected in “N444.6 billion for security and the Niger Delta.” It would appear that the mega figure was aimed at political correctness and possibly intended to show new commitment heights for security and the development needs of the Niger Delta. Apparently justifying the need for the bogus budget, analysts at the time said perhaps, it was also intended to signal to the international community that Nigeria is sparing no expenditure in ensuring peaceful co-existence among the citizenry and the interest of the businesses. The paper concludes that  despite rising budget allocations for defence and security in the last five years Nigerians have not received value for their money.
It is incomprehensible and disheartening to record the pervading wave of violence ravaging our country today. Of late, chilling accounts of mayhem unleashed on the people by men of the underworld, the Boko Haram Islamist  sect and other agents  of darkness have become  a dominant  issue in the media. . And daily, it seems as if the Nigerian Security Operatives and our Political leaders are becoming helpless, and running out of options on how to tame the growing insurgency activities and terror attacks perpetuated by the Boko Haram sect. But who knows whose turn it will be the next moment? Since the 1970s when the backlash of the three year old civil war induced criminal  activities  and sundry acts of violence, senseless  killings have remained a part of the social  burden of our polity. Nigeria has had its fill of robbery kingpins and minions. Bandits such as Oyenusi, Anini,  Shina Rambo and others had their time visiting violence and mayhem on the psyche of Nigerians. But never has the nation witnessed violent crime in its pervasiveness,  brazenness and sophistication as in the present times when  a combination of socio –political and economic factors conspired  to encase us in a cocoon.
Nigeria is fast degenerating into the Hobbesean state of nature where “life is short, nasty and brutish” and is “a survival of the fittest”. Anarchy is closing in: law and order have lost their sting. Like in those biblical days when there was no king in Israel, everybody now appears to be doing what is right in his or her own eyes. Hoodlums, burglars, car- snatchers hired assassins and of cause, insurgents have virtually taken over the land. Most Nigerians now sleep with one eye  open as those who are lucky to escape burglars are kept awake all night by booming sounds of gunshots or dins  of bomb explosions by those too powerful  to be controlled.
Certainly, it is the sole responsibility of government to protect the lives and property of citizens. This is indeed, the primary purpose of government amongst other things. A government that cannot guarantee this, to say the least, loses its essence. Nigeria is in this mess as a result of the kind of leadership we have had in place. Even when government official   are targets of the violent attacks and some of them are kidnapped on a daily basis by hungry youth, nothing is being done to halt the trend. Being a Commander-In-Chief   does not end in adorning military uniform and making speeches.  Many Nigerians are jobless and can easily be recruited by undesirable element to cause havoc in the society. Put differently, blood has been literally, flowing in the streets of Abuja, Kano, Bauchi, Kaduna, Damaturu ,Okene, Taraba,  Suleja Maiduguri etc. Lives have been lost and property, worth millions and billions, destroyed. Apparently, there is no end in sight for this ugly development. No Nigerian is insulated from bomb explosion. As Churches, Mosques and corporate offices, schools, are not spared.
Yet, year in year out, huge sums of the nation’s funds are budgeted to fortify and maintain the Nigerian Defence. We are greatly of the opinion that if the all the funds that goes into the Nigerian Defence Ministry are judiciously used to properly equip and maintain our security operatives and their welfare, by now the country’s Defence Ministry will be one of the most sophisticated in the world. It is appalling to find authorities within the Nigerian Defence Ministry living like millionaires while our security forces are said to be using less sophisticated weapons and armory than that used by insurgents.  We cannot be talking about addressing the insecurity challenges facing us as a nation when those in Government and Security authorities cannot transparently account to Nigerians, how and what the huge budgets meant for the Defence Ministry are used.
It is high time the Nigerian Government and relevant Security Operatives should rise to the occasion and exhibit more transparency and accountability in budget expenditures of the Defence Ministry. It is one thing to tell Nigerians that the Defence Ministry needs more funds as allocated/budgeted, but it is another thing entirely for such huge budgets to be judiciously used and proper accounted for. Our Nigerian political leaders have not demonstrated sincerity of purpose and the patriotic spirit in their co called efforts towards the fight against terror/insecurity in our land. This ‘indifference’ attitude and lack of seeing themselves as accountable to the citizenry, has to change. Nigerians need to see our political leaders rising up to the challenge in addressing this issue. They cannot be saying one thing and doing another.
Zik Gbemre, JP, National Coordinator,

Related News