House of Representatives Speaker, Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila has disclosed that only nine per cent of the total budgetary allocation to the Nigerian Armed Forces is spent on equipment.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Gbajabiamila made this known at a public hearing on the Armed Forces Support Trust Fund (Establishment) Bill, organised by the House Committee on Defence in Abuja on Monday.
Gbajabiamila said that appropriation records show that about 91 per cent of the current funding of the armed forces is spent on recurrent overhead, salaries and welfare.
According to him, “this bill seeks to provide an injection of additional capital funding for the armed forces of Nigeria at a crucial time in our nation. I am sure many of you will wonder why the armed forces of Nigeria need an additional financial injection at this time. The fact-based on appropriation records is that about 91 per cent of the current funding to the armed forces go on recurrent overhead, salaries and welfare, leaving only nine per cent for capital purchases.
“This reality has prompted this 9th House of Representatives to seek a way of providing funds that will be focused on the capital needs and training of our armed forces,” he said.
Gbajabiamila further explained that the importance of the bill is evidenced by the dwindling resources available to the armed forces of Nigeria to prosecute the various security operations it is involved in, adding that this requires innovative ideas to raise additional funds without placing any burden on Nigerians, in support of the Nigerian military. While noting that Nigeria’s expenditure on military hardware and training in the last five years hovers between a paltry nine to 11 per cent of budgetary allocation to the armed forces, he lamented that “it is grossly incapable of empowering the military to face the security challenges in the country, especially the insurgency in the North East.
Gbajabiamila said that to succeed in the fight against insecurity, the armed forces require more funding for modern weapons and required training, stressing that spending on military hardware must definitely increase to support the zeal and commitment already being exhibited by the soldiers.
He contended that if Nigeria must develop, then the country needs to get its security estate right by ensuring that the military is adequately equipped and well-trained; this requires funding that cannot be sourced solely through the annual budget provisions. Gbajabiamila said that during war times, countries do not fund their military through regular appropriation alone as seen in the United States, United Kingdom and all Western powers who engage in extra-budgetary funding.
“Nigeria is at war against insurgency, terrorism, kidnapping and all manner of insecurity; hence the need to uplift the resources available to our armed services to enable them to procure the best tools to help win this war. So, what we seek to do in this bill is not new or unique to us as a nation; the solution to our security challenges requires asymmetric actions across many policy areas. This is what we have tried to do as the representatives of the people.
“The concept of a trust fund already exists for the Nigerian Police; it only makes sense to also bolster our military capability as well through this unique vehicle,” he said.