Senator Iroegbu in Abuja
The Senate Committee on Navy has described as inadequate the approximate sum of N30 billion budgetary allocation for the Nigerian Navy capital and overheard expenditure in 2016.
This is coming as the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Ibok-ete Ibas, disclosed that the navy is yet to receive any funding for capital expenditure this year.
The Committee Chairman, Senator Isah Hamma Misau, made this remark on Tuesday, during the working visit to the Naval Headquarters, Abuja.
Misau said the service was grossly underfunded with the allocation of N25.6 billion as capital expenditure and what he described as a meagre N3.4 billion for overhead within the 2016 fiscal year.
He said: “The committee is aware that these problems still persist and cannot be solved overnight. Efforts are being made to ensure that the Nigerian Navy is assisted through enhanced budgetary provisions.
“For instance, only the sum of N25,646,409,841 was appropriated for the Nigerian Navy in the year 2016 budget, as capital expenditure and a meagre sum of N3,479, 967,632 was appropriated as overhead expenditure. We are aware that the provisions are inadequate to enable you perform your duties satisfactorily.”
The committee assured the CNS that they would “work and partner assiduously with the navy to ensure that opportunities are explored towards ensuring that the Nigerian Navy becomes more modern, sophisticated, potent and aggressive in the course of carrying out its statutory role defending the nation’s maritime domain.”
Earlier, Ibas disclosed that there is no fund for capital expenditure, which has in turn affected most of their policy drive, programmes and projects.
He said this has hampered its operational effectiveness and resulted in failure to acquire required platforms and military equipment necessary to police Nigeria’s maritime sector.
He agreed with the committee that the service is poorly funded, thereby affecting the ability to maintain its fleet for sustained presence at sea.
“Currently no fund has been released for capital expenditure,” he said.
The naval chief also listed other issues restricting optimal performance of the navy including shortage of platforms, limited Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) capability, inadequate funding, inadequate and dilapidated jetties, dilapidated logistics support facilities, heavy hydrograhpic survey capability, and shortage of barracks accommodation.
He said: “The trend unfortunately indicates that while the proposed overhead is increasing annually, the amounts appropriated and released are decreasing. This has impinged on Nigerian Navy’s ability to optimally maintain her fleet for sustained presence at sea, among others.
“The same situation applies for capital expenditure, such that the Nigerian Navy ability to acquire adequate platforms and other hardware necessary to o optimally police Nigeria’s maritime environment has been severely restricted.”
Speaking further, Ibas assured that the navy would more effective at policing the maritime environment and fight crimes if they are provided with the necessary platforms and equipment, saying “there is no alternative to appropriate funding.”
He however listed some notable achievements by navy that despite prevalent challenges, including the arrest of 27 vessels and over 200 crew members for illegal bunkering.
Ibas said navy were also able to destroy over 65 illegal oil refineries, 13 barges, 23 large wooden boats and 180 auxiliary equipment were apprehended between January 16 till date.
The CNS said they achieved this feet by adopting a double-pronged strategy towards acquiring ships from some friendly countries, as well as local construction to aid in their operations.
“The service also recorded other achievements in the area of maritime domain awareness, policing operations, fleet recapitalisation, training, disposal of expired ammunition and research and development,” he stated.