The Defence Headquarters has said the Nigerian military needs noting less than $6 billion in three years to effectively tackle the growing security crises across the country.
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Air Vice Marshall M. A. Yakubu, Director of Production, DHQ, stated this at a public hearing organised by the House Committee on Defence, on the Armed Forces Support Trust Fund (Establishment) Bill, 2021, in Abuja on Monday.
According to Yakubu, the country will need to appropriate $2 billion annually for three consecutive years in order to make the Armed Forces efficient.
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He noted that the annual N100 billion being projected to be an additional fund to the Armed Forces would still leave them underfunded due to the volatile exchange rate.
“The last time – about two weeks ago, we had a brief discussion of what we intend to generate from this. We are estimating something in the range of N100bn per annum. Convert that to dollars because virtually all the equipment is imported. This will go nowhere! And it would not address the problem we are seeking to address unless we expand the sources.
“Nigerians, I know, are tired of being asked to pay for something. The level of poverty is severe. However, nobody wants to sleep with only one eye closed. Everybody is scared of travelling on the road because of insecurity. Therefore, I would urge that all stakeholders must educate citizens to understand the need to sacrifice because if we do not do that to address this problem, sincerely speaking, it would continue to be a mirage.
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“If we are not able to raise a minimum of $2bn per annum in the next three years for a start, subsequently maybe we can begin to taper down the percentages; but for a start, we need a bulk sum because many of these manufacturers of equipment require 100 per cent down payment to even start production.
“So, you cannot sign a contract, for example with the US manufacturers, and pay 15 per cent mobilisation as required by the Procurement Act. Nobody will look at you. Their terms must be followed. Many times we are asked to pay 100 per cent. An example is the Super Tucano. This one is on a government-to-government (basis). They insist on 100 per cent payment within 30 days. No budgetary allocation will fund that.”
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Yakubu told the lawmakers that he is in tune with procurement and logistics procedures of the military, having served in various capacities as head of procurement and logistics at the Nigerian Air Force and also his stint as Defence Attache with the United States.
The air vice marshall, however, insisted that the budget cap being placed on military allocation cannot work, especially in light of the numerous challenges it is tackling across the country.
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He said, “Every year, how do we get our budget, capital budget specifically? An arbitrary envelope is simply thrown at us. This year, for example, your budget cap should be N20bn. It does not take into consideration what the actual needs are; what do you need to meet those needs? Now that is one.
“Secondly, we are all aware of the exchange rate fluctuations. We have run into problems where even working with approved budget envelopes, we have gone ahead to sign contracts for procurement of equipment and suddenly, the exchange rate collapses on us and we are unable to fund it. We have found ourselves every year running back to the Federal Government for interventions. This is not sustainable.”
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The House introduced the Armed Forces Support Trust Fund (Establishment) Bill in order to see how it can make funds available for the military through deductions from statutory receipts of the Federal Government as well as voluntary donations” for five years.