$1BILLION TO FIGHT DEGRADED & TECHNICALLY DEFEATED INSURGENTS?
Nigeria is an interesting case, the more you look,the less you see, the more things seem to change, the more they remain the same. Otherwise how can Nigerians be told in bright day light that one billion dollars which is equivalent to at least 360 Billion Naira has been withdrawn from the excess crude account to fight a" degraded and technically defeated Boko Haram"? This development raises a few questions.
The first question is, do we need this size of money for this kind of exercise at this point? If we do, what happened to all the money that have been thrown into this war since it started, especially since this government took over the battle and succeeded in "degrading and technically defeating "the insurgents in North East? The second question is, that if the situation is so bad that this quantum of money is needed at this point, then does it mean, that what we have been fed with all this while is propaganda? More so, we have been constantly told that the Boko Haram is not holding any territory, it has been flushed from Sambisa Forest with the capture of Shekarau's Koran, that it is only the remnants that are just targeting soft targets.
Thirdly, if this size of money is needed at this time, has it been appropriated by the National Assembly or has the Nigerian Governor's forum become a legislative institution that can supplant the functions of the National Assembly? This question has become fundamental as the money in the excess crude account belongs to the three tiers of government, in effect belongs to the entire citizens of Nigeria and some governor can not just look at the television camera and announce to us- 'helpless citizens' that they the governors 'have granted the federal government permission to draw one billion dollars from the excess crude account' as if they were talking of their personal money. Impunity comes in different forms in this Country!
The fourth question that arises, is how can we guarantee that a few years from now, we shall not be regaled with another arms deal scam? Since the coming to power of this government, we have been fed daily with tales of how 2.5 Billion dollars meant for arms was shared by the former National Security Adviser( NSA) for 2015 elections. Though no one has been convicted on the alleged scam, how can Nigerians be assured that this 1 billion dollars will not end in the same way? Nigerians have been beaten too many times that their suspicion and skepticism is understandable, more so as to many, the difference between APC and PDP is that between six and half a dozen.
The fifth question is, assuming that we actually need 360 billion Naira, what shall we spend this huge sum of money on ?From what we read and hear regarding the current modus operandi of Boko Haram insurgents, one would think that what was needed more was intelligence gathering than fighting equipment. The way the Boko haram and their young suicide bombers are carrying on, what we seem to need more in my opinion is the enthronement of an innovative intelligence gathering machinery and the de-radicalization of the youth in the area. Currently so much money in being spent in the North East. The North East Development agency and the special budgetary provisions, the private sector led North East fund, the dedicated focus by the World Bank as requested by the President are all targeted to rebuilding the region and in my opinion makes this 360 billion Naira superfluous.
This is in view of the fact that government is running round the globe seeking loans to fund the 2017 Budget. Is this 360 billion part of 422 billion Naira proposed for Defence in 2018 budget proposals or is it additional? Indeed in the 2018 Budget proposals, only the allocation to the Trium Ministry of Power, Works & Housing which is 555 billion Naira and that of the ministry of Defence( 422B) that go above 360 Billion now targeted for the prosecution of the war against the " decimated" Boko Haram. The allocation to education and Health for the entire Nation are all below 360 Billion Naira each.
Lest we be misunderstood, every Nigerian wants the insurgency in the North East to end today if possible. We are distressed by the daily news of the brutal destruction of lives of Nigerians by Boko haram suicide bombers, but we are confused by the story the Government is telling us. If we were to believe the story of degradation, decimation and technical defeat of Boko Haram told us by the government, then taking 360 billions of national income to fight a defeated 'army' raises our concern. But if the government does feel that it truly needs this huge sum, then it must come clean and tell us the truth about the situation of things in the North East, because our mumu don do.
Mazi Sam I. Ohuabunwa OFR