16 July, 2014
PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan wrote the National Assembly Wednesday, seeking the approval of a $1 billion loan to enable government tackle the increased security challenges posed by the Boko Haram.
Jonathan’s request was contained in a letter dated July 15, and addressed to House of Representatives Speaker, Aminu Tambuwal, entitled Tackling Ongoing Security Challenges for Urgent Action.
The letter read in part: “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.”
It will be recalled that Defence got the lion share of N968.127 billion of the N4.964 trillion 2014 budget.
What Military already got
While giving a breakdown of the budget recently, Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, disclosed that the military had already accessed N130.7 billion between January and April, while another N3.8 billion already approved by President Goodluck Jonathan was being processed and would soon be released to the military. She explained that of the disbursed N130.7 billion, N85.9 billion was for personnel cost.
The Minister had said: “Defence spending is top in everything. You know that military establishments need new things to assist them in their work and ours will not be different. “No budget will be enough to meet their demands, but for now I think the sector takes almost a trillion of the budget.”
Vanguard, however, learnt that the request may be considered and approved today, since both chambers of the National Assembly will be proceeding on their annual recess to resume mid-September.
POST-SCRIPT: It will recalled that President Jonathan in May 2014 gave approval for the release of an extra-budgetary grant of US$1 billion to the Armed Forces for the purpose of hardware acquisition.
If this loan facility is approved, the military and security forces would have in one year alone, received a decent sum of US$2 billion for the purpose of rearmament. That is easily the heaviest outlay dedicated to the purpose of hardware procurement since the ouster of the Shagari regime in 1983.