Amid the prevailing insecurity in the country, the military and the police would spend a whopping 91 per cent of their budgets on recurrent expenditure, comprising overhead and personnel costs, while the remaining nine per cent would go to their capital expenditure, estimates in the 2020 Appropriation Bill have shown.
Saturday PUNCH’s analysis of the bill revealed further that the chunk of the recurrent expenditure goes into personnel cost, comprising salaries, wages, allowances and social contributions, while a meagre amount goes into capital expenditure, forcing some of the security agencies to make part payments for security items they would have used to fight insecurity.
President Muhammadu Buhari had on Tuesday, October 8, presented the N10.33tn, comprising N4.88tn recurrent expenditure and N2.14tn capital expenditure, Appropriation Bill to a joint session of the National Assembly.
The President noted that the budget estimate was designed to be one of fiscal consolidation to strengthen the macroeconomic environment, invest in critical infrastructure, human capital development and enabling institutions.
But analysis of the Appropriation Bill revealed that the Ministry of Defence, comprising different operational units like the Army, Navy, Air Force, Defence Headquarters, Nigerian Defence Academy, Defence Intelligence Agency and 11 other units got a whopping N878,458,607,427 total allocation, the second highest allocation.
Of the total allocation, however, the recurrent expenditure stood at N778,589,343,660, representing 88.63 per cent while the capital expenditure is N99,869,263,767, representing 11.37 per cent.
In the recurrent expenditure, however, the total personnel cost, comprising salaries, wages, allowances and others, is put at N722,383,830,531bn, while the overhead cost for travels, transport, training, materials and services, is N56,205,513,129.
The remaining N99bn capital expenditure would, therefore, be used for the purchase of defence equipment, sea boats, rehabilitation of barracks across the six geo-political zones, procurement of ammunition, purchase of operational vehicles, among other things needed to fight insecurity and defend the Nigerian territory.
For example, the Nigerian Army, which got the highest allocation under the Defence Ministry, would get a total of N438.23bn.
While a whopping N424.03bn of the sum goes to recurrent expenditure, comprising N408.40bn for personnel cost (salaries, allowances, wages, etc), and N15.63bn for overhead cost, a meagre N14.20bn was budgeted for capital expenditure.
According to the breakdown in the estimate, the N14bn would be used for the purchase of arms, ammunition, armoured vehicles, spare parts, kitting general, construction of office and residential buildings (barracks) and renovation of destroyed Kur Mohammed Barracks, Bama, among other projects.
Similarly, for the Nigerian Air Force, which got the second highest share in the ministry, its total allocation was N137.87bn.
Out of this, N109.51bn was for recurrent expenditure, comprising N8.85bn overhead cost and a whopping N100.66bn personnel cost (for salaries, wages, allowances, etc), while a paltry N28.36bn is budgeted for capital expenditure.
The N28bn is expected to be used for the purchase of defence equipment, procurement of various small arms and ammunition, purchase of various aircraft and their spares, support equipment and their spares, part payment for procurement of 3 x jf – 17 thunder aircraft, part payment for periodic depot maintenance of 4 x f – 7ni aircraft, among others.
For the Nigerian Navy, which got the third highest share of the ministry’s allocation, the total allocation was N131.69bn, out of which N114.50bn was allocated for recurrent expenditure, comprising N106.76bn personnel cost (salaries, wages, allowances, etc) and N7.74bn overhead cost.
On the other hand, N17.19bn was budgeted for capital expenditure, specifically for the procurement of helicopters, landing ship tank, hydro survey ship, 8 x 17m inshore patrol craft, construction of barracks and the development of Naval War College, among others.
The tilted estimate is the same for many other operation units, like DIA, under the Defence Ministry.
Police and military budgets alike
Meanwhile, for the Federal Ministry of Police Affairs, comprising police formations and commands, the ministry itself and the Nigeria Police Academy, Wudil, Kano, the total allocation is N409,142,271,823.
Of this figure, the capital expenditure is a mere N13,309,986,864, representing a paltry 3.25 per cent, while the total recurrent expenditure is N395,832,284,959, representing a huge 96.75 per cent of the allocation.
Out of the recurrent expenditure, however, the total overhead was N11,088,223,253 while the total personnel cost (salaries, wages, allowances and social contributions) took a whopping N384,744,061,706.
The paltry N13bn capital expenditure, according to the estimate, was for the purchase of security equipment (N2.88bn), motor vehicles, air navigational equipment (N2.19bn), trucks, industrial equipment (N64.82bn), purchase and acquisition of land, computer software acquisition, construction and provision of hospitals, police stations and barracks, while the rehabilitation and repair of police stations and barracks would gulp (N53.62), among other projects.
Thus, on average, the military and police would spend 91 per cent of their budgets on recurrent expenditure, largely salaries, wages and allowances, while about nine per cent would be spent on procuring equipment, weapons and other software and hardware needed to tackle insecurity in the country.
Only sophisticated arms can stop B’Haram, ISWAP – Soldiers insist
In the face of the little funds to procure defence equipment, according to the budget estimate, the Theatre Commander of the army’s Operation Lafiya Dole, Major General Olusegun Adeniyi, said on Thursday that what the army needed to end the ISWAP and Boko Haram war were combat helicopters.
Speaking when he received a delegation of the National Assembly Joint Committee on the army, led by Senator Ali Ndume, on Thursday, Adeniyi stated that Boko Haram had never been as formidable as perceived.
He said, “The only thing that needs to be given to the army now is Nigerian Army Aviation. There is a way you solve a problem that will change the game. The army needs combat helicopters to end the Boko Haram war. These helicopters will be with us at the battlefront. I know this has been on the table for years. When this is done, Nigeria can forget about Boko Haram.”
Meanwhile, military commanders, especially those currently engaged in operations at the battlefield in the North-East, had told Saturday PUNCH in a recent report that they were still using outdated weapons and equipment, including failing Shilka guns procured during the administration of the late Alhaji Shehu Shagari, who was the President of Nigeria between 1979 and 1983.
They noted that this development had exposed the Nigerian troops to attacks by the terrorists, especially the Islamic State in West Africa Province fighters, who, according to them, use more sophisticated weapons.
They, however, said they needed sophisticated weapons to defeat the terrorists.
One of the commanders said, “I can tell you that we have not been supplied with fresh equipment in a long while. Those terrorists, especially ISWAP fighters, are very deadly and confident and they now use foreign mercenaries.”
One of the commanders again told one of our correspondents on Friday that the 2020 budget proposal submitted to the National Assembly implied that “nothing would change in terms supply of arms, ammunition and other equipment needed to fight the war, yet it’s only superior weapons that can defeat them.”
The Governor of Borno State, Babagana Zulum, had said in July that Boko Haram had higher expertise and better technological weapons than the military.
The President also said at a regional summit in Burkina Faso on September 14 that “the frequency of attacks, the determination and resilience of the terrorist groups as well as the ease with which they raise funds and acquire sophisticated weapons were matters of serious concern.”
Also, at the summit, the President of Niger Republic, Mahamadou Issoufou, announced that ECOWAS leaders had decided to mobilise “financial resources of up to a billion dollars for the fight against terrorism.”
Meanwhile, apart from the insurgency in the North-East, there had been concerns over the high rate of killings of innocent Nigerians by bandits, kidnappers and armed robbers. This had made some persons to question the efficiency and capacity of the security agencies, as they tied the challenge to poor funding of the security agencies.
The then Governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari, said in March 2019 that the bandits terrorising the state were more equipped than the entire security forces deployed to combat their activities.
Yari told journalists at the State House, Abuja after holding a meeting with the President that the bandits had stockpiled as much as 500 AK-47 rifle in one of their armoury.
Budget estimates offer no hope of improved security – Security experts
A security expert and President, African Council on Narcotics, Mr Rekpene Bassey, described the proposed 2020 budget for the Ministry of Defence and the police as grossly inadequate.
He said, “If you convert the total amount that has been budgeted for the Ministry of Defence, N878.458bn into dollars, what you have is about $2.4bn, while the capital expenditure of N99.86bn comes to about $275m. It is even worse for the police that have a total expenditure of N403.32bn, about $1.114bn while the capital expenditure is just about $34m.
“The implication of this proposed capital expenditure in the military and police is that we are going to face more security challenges in terms of the internal and national security environment.
“This portends a lot of dire challenges in the months ahead in terms of security and I cannot fathom why they have proposed that.”
Also, a security expert, Mr Chigozie Ubani, said the proposed capital expenditure, especially for the police, was a negative signal, adding that Nigerians should not expect anything new in terms of tackling criminalities from security operatives in the coming year.
He said, “The implications are grievous for us. The budget proposal, especially for the police, is worrisome. Note that budget is an estimate and over the years we have not met the police budget, even up to 80 per cent. So, what it means is that the estimated proposal for the police in 2020, I can bet you that less than 40 per cent of it will be drawn down.
“The implication is not good for us because until we fix our police, our challenges will continue to fester. What we are fighting today in the North-East was initially the affair of the police, but they could not deal with it and that was how it became a military affair.”
“In my view, there is nothing in the budget that shows that there is a conscious effort to improve on the quality of policing the nation.”
Meanwhile, the Defence Headquarters has said that to tackle the imbalance in the budgetary allocations for the military, the armed forces have been looking for and moving towards alternative sources of funding.
The Acting Director, Defence Information, Col Onyema Nwachukwu, said the military had begun to produce “armoured carriers, and ships locally.”
In an interview with our correspondent on Friday, he said, “If you look at the 2020 budgetary allocations, about N100bn is what is allocated to defence. And when you talk about recurrent and capital expenditure, you find out that the recurrent is quite higher than the capital.
“The idea is that from the outset, we have always talked about seeking alternative sources of funding for the military.
We are working in this regard. The Nigerian military is evolving, considering the various contemporary security challenges, which are of course a global phenomenon. There are various theatres of operation around the country and the military has been very innovative despite the budgetary allocations.
Also, Force spokesperson, DCP Frank Mba, in his response to the lopsided budget estimate said,
“I’m sorry, I may not be able to respond to this enquiry now. I can only give you an appropriate response after due consultation with the Budget Department. I will do that and revert to you as soon as possible, please.”