Written by Emmanuel Ogbeche

Buhari, Joanthan: The $1bn presidents

On July 15, 2014, former President Goodluck Jonathan wrote the National Assembly requesting a loan of $1 billion to tackle the increased security challenge posed by Boko Haram.

Three years after Jonathan made that request, governors gathered in Abuja on December 14 to give approval to President Muhammadu Buhari to withdraw the same $1bn from the controversial Excess Crude Account to fund the war against Boko Haram.

The balance in the ECA stands at $2.3bn.

“We are pleased with the federal government achievements in the insurgency war and in that vein state governors have approved that the sum of $1 billion be taken from the excess crude account by the federal government to fight the insurgency war to its conclusion,” said Godwin Obaseki, Edo state governor.

“The money will cover the whole array of needs which includes purchase of equipment, training for military personnel and logistics,” he said after a meeting of the National Economic Council.

Jonathan in writing to the NASS then said; “You are no doubt cognizant of the ongoing serious security challenges, which the nation is facing as typified by the Boko Haram terrorists threat. This is an issue that we have discussed at various times.

“I would like to bring to your attention the urgent need to upgrade the equipment, training and logistics of our Armed Forces and security services to enable them be more forceful to confront this serious threat.

“For this reason, I seek the concurrence of the National Assembly for external borrowing of not more than $1 billion, including government to government arrangements for this upgrade.”

The APC wasted no time in slamming the president for the request in a statement by its then National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, now Minister of Information and Culture.

“The only reason the schoolgirls have remained in captivity is the sheer cluelessness and incompetence on the part of the Jonathan administration, which waited for over 19 days before even admitting that the girls were kidnapped in the first instance. Therefore, putting more money in the hands of an incompetent and massively corrupt administration can only encourage more incompetence and corruption. That is why we are asking the National Assembly to put national interest above all other considerations by taking a dispassionate, non-partisan look at the President’s request.

The National Assembly must summon security and military chiefs to explain how the huge funds allocated to the security sector in the past has been spent before more funds can be pumped into the sector,” the statement read.

Like then like now, the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, have axe to grind with the latest approval.

In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, the party said it was alarmed by the manipulative plot by the APC administration to secure approvals without recourse to due process, and for purposes of fighting the same insurgency, it claimed to have since defeated.

“The PDP supports the fight against the insurgency. We hold our officers and men confronting the terrorists and securing our territorial integrity in high esteem, but we are concerned about the manipulative tendencies connected with the approvals as well as the veracity of claimed purpose of the fund.

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

“If it would take a billion dollar from a nation’s savings to kill what they long claimed dead, then we challenge APC government 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.”

 

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