James Emejo in Abuja
Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Navy, Hon. Abdussamad Dasuki, Monday hinted at moves to stop the implementation of the current Zero-Based Budgeting (ZBB) system for the Nigerian Navy.
He said given the advancing security threats and scarce resources, there was no better time to re-evaluate the envelope budgeting method for the navy to boost its operations against emerging threats towards the safety of the country’s waterways.
The ZBB is believed to be a major constraints to naval aspirations, particularly in the allocation of funds which had been on a steady decrease over the years.
Speaking during the 2018 budget defence of the Navy, Dasuki said in the with the economic benefits associated with securing the country’s territorial waters, and in a bid to make the country more resilient to both internal and external aggression, it had become critical to ensure efficient allocation of public resources to the navy.
He said the proportion of total allocation to naval operations as a proportion of overall budget 1.73 per cent, noting that it dropped to 1.41 per cent in 2016, 1.25 per cent in 2017 and currently 1.11 per cent in the 2018 Appropriation.
He further lamented that out of over N26 billion allocated for its capital projects in 2017, only about N15 billion was released; and N2.3 billion released for overhead, out of N4 billion appropriated.
He said:”This clearly indicates the Navy cannot perform optimally in the circumstance.”
Nevertheless, the chairman commended the navy for doing so much with the little resources made available to it.
According to him: “Despite these poor level of capital budget implementation, the Nigerian Navy was able to secure the sea thus, helping to sustain the continued flow of economic activities that helped to take the economy out of recession.”
The committee, however, sought to know the factors which had affected the poor release of funds for the navy’s operations.
He said all issues hampering its activities would be carefully considered in approval its budget.
While calling on the federal government to fast track the dredging of Lake Chad to enable the effective deployment of naval boats, he also appealed to the governments of Rivers, Bayelsa, and Delta States to cooperate with the Navy to provide land for the Falcon Eye system.
Nonetheless, Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok Ekwe Ibas, who led his management team to appear before the committee said funding challenges had become unavoidable under the ZBB system as its appropriation had been drastically limited from inception.
He lamented that both appropriated and final released had been substantially and progressively decreasing every year, adding that in some cases, only five percent of budgeted funds were released.
He said: “On account of such poor funding profile, the service is – unhealthily deficient in practically all operational key enablers including its inability to achieve milestones in some of its security initiatives as well as difficulty in maintaining operational sustenance among others.
He said the navy which contributes to the wealth of the nation needed to be taken care of in view of the technical nature of its activities.
The funding had been on the decline while the challenges are increasing, he told lawmakers, adding that the situation could heighten maritime insecurity to detriment of the country if the problem of funding is not addressed.
Essentially the navy is proposing N365 billion as its capital expenditure for 2018 but was obliged to review the estimate down to a budget ceiling of about N27 billion.