The House of Representatives on Monday hinted that only a paltry nine percentage of billions of dollars spent on armed forces is spent on the purchase of arms to battle insecurity in the country.
The House, through the Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, gave the hint at a public hearing on a proposed law to compel the thirty six states of the federation, Federal Inland Revenue Service(FIRS), Airlines operating in Nigeria, Nigeria Sovereign Wealth Fund and sundry grants from agencies to provide funding for the Nigerian Army, Navy and Airforce to effectively battle insecurity in the country.
He stated that , “It is my pleasure to speak at the Public Hearing on the Armed Forces Support Trust Fund (Establishment) Bill, 2021 which is being held today. The importance of this bill is evidenced by the dwindling resources available to the Armed Forces of Nigeria to prosecute the various security operations it is involved in. This requires innovative ideas to raise additional funds without placing any burden on Nigerians, in support of the Nigerian military. Thus, the idea of this
This Bill seeks to provide an injection of additional Capital funding for the Armed Forces of Nigeria at a crucial time in our nation. I am sure many of you will wonder why the Armed Forces of Nigeria need an additional financial injection at this time.
The fact based on appropriation records is that about 91% of the current funding to the Armed Forces go on recurrent overhead, salaries and welfare, leaving only 9% for capital purchases. This reality has prompted this 9th House of Representatives to seek a way of providing funds that will be focused on the Capital needs and training of our Armed Forces. Nigeria’s expenditure on military hardware and training in the last five years hovers between a paltry nine to eleven percent of the total annual budgetary allocation to the Armed Forces
This is grossly incapable of empowering the military to face the security challenges in the country especially the insurgency in the North East. To succeed in this fight, the Armed Forces of Nigeria requires more funding for modern weapons and required trainings. Spending on military hardware must definitely increase to support the zeal and commitment already being exhibited by our soldiers.
The Armed Forces Support Trust Fund (Establishment) Bill, 2021 is a time limited endeavour to upgrade the equipment infrastructure of our Armed Forces in a deliberate manner that will better position them to be more effective in securing the nation.
The myriad of security challenges facing the country has continued to dwarf every developmental effort put in by the government”,
According to the helmsman of the Green Chamber, “ Indeed, development is at the heart of security and as Kofi Annan puts it, “Development and security are inextricably linked.” If Nigeria must develop, we need to get our security estate right by ensuring that our military is adequately equipped and well- trained.
This requires funding which cannot be sourced solely through the annual budget provisions.
This Bill has been crafted in ways that does not impose any direct additional burden on Nigerian citizens and businesses, but creatively make funds available through deductions from statutory receipts of the Federal Government as well as voluntary donations”.
Distinguished colleagues, ladies and gentlemen; I am happy to support this Bill because it will help reposition our military capabilities in ways that can only strengthen our National security. I agree that the solutions to our insecurity as a nation will not only be by military powers alone; but also, by non-military engagement “
That is why next week, the House of Representatives is hosting a Five-Day Special Summit on National Security. This Summit will take an All-Nation and All-Government approach by examining extensively non-military solutions to our insecurity. From challenges with Food security, Environmental changes, Economic development, Criminal Justice reform and other non-kinetic engagements.
“But even with these extensive and wider examination of our security challenges; we cannot exclude the need for and benefit of a well-equipped and better trained military in the fight against all forms of insecurity.
It is a historic fact that countries during war times, do not fund their military through regular appropriation alone.
From the USA, to the United Kingdom and all Western powers; their military was funded through extra budgetary means during periods of war. Nigeria is at war against insurgency, terrorism, kidnapping and all manner of insecurity; hence the need to uplift the resources available to our Armed Services to enable them procure the best tools to help win this war. So, what we seek to do in this Bill is not new or unique to us as a nation
The solution to our security challenges requires asymmetric actions across many policy areas. This is what we have tried to do as the representatives of the people.
The concept of a Trust fund already exists for the Nigerian Police. It only makes sense to also bolster our military capability as well through this unique vehicle. In this Bill; the Board of the Trust Fund is full of eminent Nigerians from all walks of life; this should give confidence to all of the depth of knowledge and experience that will be available to manage this fund. The National Assembly will equally play its part in oversighting this work of this Trust Fund.