Nigeria Naval Base
From Kunle Akogun in Abuja
The Senate yesterday decried the low allocation to the Nigerian Navy in the 2012 budget.
Chairman Senate Committee on Navy, Senator Chris Anyanwu, who made the observation during a budget defence session the committee had with the Chief of Naval Staff, Air Marshal Ola Ibrahim, said inadequate funding would badly affect the operations of the service.
The Naval Chief had earlier disclosed that only N10.2 billion was allocated to the Navy in this year’s budget out of the N142 billion estimate he submitted to the Budget Office.
He said that about N6.5 billion would be spent on fueling the newly inaugurated NNS Thunder and four other offshore patrol ships in 2012, explaining that the ship has the capacity of consuming over one million liters of diesel per month.
“The tank capacity of NNS Thunder is around 1.05 million liters. If you multiply that by a round figure of N150 for a liter of diesel, that gives you N150 million. This is what it takes to keep the ship on high sea for one month”, Ibrahim said, lamenting that drastic reduction of the Navy’s budget would affect its performance.
He said: “We need a Navy that we can all be proud of. You don’t run the Navy with half measures. If you want the Navy to be there at all times you must be ready to invest.”
In her remark, Anyanwu described the Navy’s budget as “disastrous” and the ships donated to Nigeria by the US as “handouts.”
Anyanwu condemned the donations, noting that Nigeria as a nation should be able to afford its own naval fleet, if not for the deep rooted corruption that has eaten into the very fabric of the nation.
According to her, ““It is sad that we have to depend on our big brothers before fulfilling our constitutional role in Nigeria. If we are able to plug the corruption in our system we should be able to buy brand new platforms to guard our territorial waters. That is the reflection of what is happening in our system. Corruption has sucked the blood out of our system. So we have to depend on handouts.
“Navy’s budget this year is disastrous, when put side by side with what is appropriated. The Navy needs N142 billion and only N10.2 billion was appropriated. That is very though. It is a no brainer. I don’t know what N10 billion can do for the Navy.
Commenting on the fuel budget estimate for the ships, she said: “To spend N6.5 billion on fueling is quite a bit. But if you want to really tackle the problem of piracy and oil theft you need the big crafts and these are not very cheap tools.”