Who wants to be a governor? From all indications, that position is one of the most powerful and lucrative jobs in Nigeria; and two major factors are responsible for this: access to huge unaccountable security votes and immunity from prosecution while in office. The same security vote benefit, analysts say, extends to top federal government officials, ministers, top legislators, religious and traditional leaders.
A new report by Transparency International Defence and Security (TIDS) and the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) has revealed that not less than $670 million is spent on security votes in Nigeria every year. The report, titled â€˜Camouflaged Cashâ€™, which was launched in Abuja recently, noted that the $670m was more than the annual budget of the Nigerian army, which was allocated N139.8 billion in the 2017 budget.
Experts say security votes are funds disbursed to cover unforeseen security needs in the country, which are often transacted in cash and are usually at the discretion of public officials, without being subject to independent audit. The security votes considered for the TIDS report were from the federal and some state governments.
According to the Director of TIDS, Katherine Dixon, instead of addressing its many urgent threats, the ever-increasing use of security votes is providing corrupt officials with an easy-to-use and entirely hidden slush fund. In a country that is already in campaign mode ahead of the 2019 general elections, the security vote provides the ideal political war-chest.
Although the source of the security vote is not specified, removing such a huge sum annually from whatever till will surely have its side effects on the citizenry. The irony of it all is that the security vote has not helped to ensure security or reduce insecurity in Nigeria. Instead, it has only helped to breed corruption in high places…sad reality
– Abimbola Akosile