Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
An advocacy group, One Voice Nigeria, has urged the National Assembly to increase funding for defence as the country continues to battle various security challenges. These it said included deadly activities of Boko Haram in the North-east, banditry in the North-west, militancy in the South-south and kidnapping in South-west, in addition to the menace of rampaging Fulani herdsmen.
The group noted that while it applauded the efforts of the 8th National Assembly to marginally increase funding for defence, it charged the 9th National Assembly to go more steps further.
The Convener of the group, Comrade Kabiru Dallah, in a statement Wednesday said that security was the most serious business and should be given utmost attention, saying nothing is too much for us to spend on the security of Nigeria. Nothing is too much because security is key.
Dallah stated: “It is on this note that One Voice Nigeria today launches the ‘nothing is too much for our security’ campaign. The campaign will focus on several areas to ensure that there is an improvement in the quantum of resources available for providing security to Nigerians, ensure that the appropriation of the resources is not delayed and ensure prompt release of funds that have been approved,”
“We hereby present our 3-point agenda for security spending. The first point of the agenda we are setting for the National Assembly is to double and possibly quadruple defence and security spending. This point is premised on the reality that the current budgeting for the Armed Forces, particularly the Nigerian Army, and the Nigerian Police Force is very low.
“The need for the federal lawmakers to find ways of increasing the funds available to these bodies in view of ongoing operations against Boko Haram/ISWAP, cattle-rustlers, bandits, kidnappers, militants and other threats that have necessitated the massive deployment of the military and mobile police units. The budgeting for these organizations simply has to change to reflect the current reality. We see the necessity to pass a special supplementary budget to ensure that they are speedily empowered to deal with the security threats in the land.
“ The second point is that the National Assembly must, for the sake of the urgency around security issues in Nigeria, ensure speedy passage of defence budget and releases to the military. The country has the benefit of experience to know what happens when intervention budgets are allowed to succumb to politics as was the case with the issue of the $1billion sought by President Buhari, which the last parliament frustrated in the name of getting at the president.
“ By the time the lawmakers in that parliament were done with their politicking Boko Haram had upgraded to become ISWAP. This situation could have been avoided if the urgency of the situation were considered and given primacy.
“ The third point of the agenda is to the Ministry of Finance, which must give priority to issues of national security and to ensure that no arm of the military or the Police suffer any financial weakness on account of non-release of funds.”