The Federal Government spent about $2.6 billion (roughly N1.07trn) on fighting terrorism in 2020.
This was revealed by the House of Representatives Chairman Committee on Defence, Hon. Babajimi Benson (APC, Lagos), yesterday during a one-day public hearing on the Armed Forces Support Trust Fund (Establishment) Bill, 2021 in Abuja.
However, in spite of this, the committee head pointed out that the expenditure was dwarfed by three other countries on the African continent.
According to him: “In 2020, while Nigeria spent only $2.6 billion on its military, Algeria, Morocco and South Africa expended $9.7 billion, $4.8 billion and $3.1 billion respectively to fund and equip their military.”
He said the essence of the bill is thus to explore alternative sources of funding for the armed forces in addition to the annual budgetary provisions.
Benson said the need for the bill became necessary considering the numerous security challenges bedeviling the nation.
According to him, the bill also seeks to create an exclusive five-year finding plan, outside the budgetary allocations, for revamping the Nigeeian armed forces through special training for armed forces personnel and provisions of modern fir-for-purpose security and defence equipment.
Also speaking at the event, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila said Nigeria is currently at war with terrorism, Boko Haram insurgents and banditry and therefore requires alternatives sources of military finding.
He said: “It is a historic fact that countries during war times, do not fund their military through regular appropriations alone. From the USA, to the United Kingdom and all Western powers; their military are funded through extra budgetary means during peri- ods of war.”
According to him: “Nigeria is at war against insurgency, terrorism, kidnapping and all manner of insecurity; hence the need to uplift the resources available to our Armed Services to enable them procure the best tools to help win this war.
So, what we seek to do in this bill is not new or unique to us as a nation.” The Speaker explained that: “The importance of this bill is evidenced by the dwindling resources available to the Armed Forces of Nigeria to prosecute the various security operations it is involved in. “This requires innovative ideas to raise additional funds without placing any burden on Nigerians, in support of the Nigerian military.
Thus, the idea of this bill. “This Bill seeks to provide an injection of additional Capital funding for the Armed Forces of Nigeria at a crucial time in our nation. I am sure many of you will wonder why the Armed Forces of Nigeria need an additional financial injection at this time.”
Represented by the Majority Leader, Hon. Alhassan Ado Doguwa, Gbajabiamila noted that: “The fact based on appropriation records is that about 91% of the current funding to the Armed Forces go on recurrent overhead, salaries and welfare, leaving only 9% for capital purchases.
“This reality has prompted this 9th House of Representatives to seek a way of providing funds that will be focused on the Capital needs and training of our Armed Forces. Nigeria’s expenditure on military hardware and training in the last five years hovers between a paltry nine to eleven percent of the total annual budgetary allocation to the Armed Forces.”
He said: “To succeed in this fight, the Armed Forces of Nigeria requires more funding for modern weapons and required trainings. Spending on military hardware must definitely increase to support the zeal and commitment already being exhibited by our soldiers.
“The Armed Forces Support Trust Fund (Establishment) Bill, 2021 is a time limited endeavour to upgrade the equipment infrastructure of our Armed Forces in a deliberate manner that will better position them to be more effective in securing the nation.”