Buhari approves release of N360bn from ECA for Boko Haram war

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Fund meant for 2019 presidential election–Fayose

President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the release of $1 billion (about N360 billion) for the purchase of arms to fight insurgency.

The President gave the approval during a meeting with the minister of defence, Mansur Dan-Ali and the service chiefs at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.

Speaking in Abuja on Wednesday, Dan-Ali also disclosed that the meeting also discussed the safe release of Leah Sharibu, the last of the Dapchi schoolgirls still in Boko Haram captivity.

According to him, the meeting also discussed security situation across the country and the steps being taken to mitigate them.

“We have operationalised a division in Sokoto. There will be a Brigade in Katsina and another Brigade in Zamfara that will take care of security situation in the areas.

“Of course, the strength of security personnel has increased, including the air force additional quick response group; they have added enough manpower in that area,” he said.

The minister who described the meeting with the President as a “normal meeting of security agencies in the country” added: “What I can add after all that I have said is to inform you that of recent, our leader, President Muhammadu Buhari, gave approval for the purchase of more equipment for the military, worth $1bn,” he stressed.

Although he did not disclose the source of the money, the National Economic Council, chaired by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, had in December 2017 approved the withdrawal of $1bn from the Excess Crude Account to fight insecurity.

FG has been lying to Nigerians about ending insurgency–PDP

Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has criticized the withdrawal of $1 billion from the ECA to fight insurgency in the north east.

In a statement by its national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, the party demanded an apology from the Buhari-led administration for lying to Nigerians about the actual state of the fight against insurgency in Nigeria.

“Nigerians would recall that the APC-led Federal Government had claimed that it has since defeated the insurgents.

“If it would take a billion dollar from a nation’s savings to kill what they long claimed dead, then we challenge APC government to come clean and tell Nigerians the whole truth.

“The era of lies and propaganda is long gone and Nigerians now know the truth. The Federal Government must be held accountable and stopped from any move to fritter away our national savings.

“We therefore call on the National Assembly to interrogate this proposed disbursement and subject it to a thorough but rapid interrogation.

“By accepting the $1bn for fighting insurgency, the APC-led Federal Government has admitted that it lied when it announced that it has defeated the insurgents. They should therefore apologize to Nigerians for giving them a false sense of security, resulting in their vulnerability to attacks by terrorists,” said the party.

Fund meant for re-election–Fayose

The Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, has said that the approval of $1bn for the procurement of security equipment is a “pooling of public funds for the ac of funding President Buhari’s re-election, as well as the coming governorship elections in Ekiti and Osun states.”

Fayose, who demanded to know if the $1bn was from the Excess Crude Account, said, “It will be illegal and against the principle of federalism that operates in Nigeria for the President, who is the head of just one of the federating units, to approve spending of fund belonging to the three tiers of government without the consent of heads of other federating units.”

Fayose who spoke in a statement issued by his special assistant on public communications and new media, Lere Olayinka said: “When did the National Assembly approve the spending of the $1bn? Or can the President spend $1bn belonging to Nigerians without the approval of the National Assembly?”

Fayose queried the use of the money after the federal government said it had defeated Boko Haram.

“The question the Federal Government must answer is; which insurgency are they buying arms worth N370bn to fight? Is it the same Boko Haram that they told Nigerians that they have completely defeated?

“Since they said they have defeated Boko Haram, and later told Nigerians that they have a ceasefire agreement with the insurgents, what else do they need $1bn (over N370bn) for, if not to fund the 2019 elections?

“Also, up till now, the government has yet to give satisfactory explanations as to the abduction and return of Dapchi schoolgirls.

“With the hurried approval of $1bn, is it not being reinforced that the Boko Haram insurgency has become a source of looting public fund by this government?

“It is on record that Transparency International once said in its report that some top military officials in the country were feeding fat from the war against Boko Haram by creating fake contracts and laundering the proceeds in the United States, United Kingdom and elsewhere,” he added.

No gains from funds released so far to fight insurgency–BBOG

The #BringBackOurGirls movement also reacted and deplored the approval of $1bn by the President, noting that the nation had not got any value for the huge amount spent so far on fighting insurgency in the North-East.

The BBOG spokesman, Sesugh Akume, described the fight against insurgency as “a money-making scheme,” wondering why the government needed to spend additional $1bn to fight the insurgents it claimed to have defeated.

He said: “The whole thing is a money-making scheme; our movement did an analysis of the money spent on fighting insurgency since 2011 and it has been within that range and we have not had value for the money we have spent.

“The government claimed to have defeated Boko Haram, so what are we spending $1bn on?”

Also, two civil society organisations, the Campaign for Democracy (CD) said the approval of $1bn could extend the insurgency, calling on Nigerians to demand the monitoring of the fund.

“This money from the Excess Crude Account is accrued for special purposes. This is one of the reasons why the Boko Haram insurgents cannot be defeated yet; because there are funds to cater to them. This is why the abduction of schoolgirls in Dapchi area of Yobe State took place in February.

“With this huge money, we are creating an avenue for the insurgents to wax stronger. We have to monitor how that money is spent. What we are witnessing is the negligence of the security agencies, more money is not needed,” said CD president, Usman Abdul.

 

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