OCT 12 2016 FEC MEETING

Buhari Okays $1 Billion to Buy Arms, Fayose Calls It 2019 Election Money

President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the purchase of equipment worth $1bn for the military.

The Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali, stated this in an interview with State House correspondents at the end of the meeting that Buhari had with security chiefs at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Wednesday.

“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,” the minister said.

Although Dan-Ali 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.

The minister described the meeting with the President as a “normal meeting of security agencies in the country.”

He said issues concerning security situation in some states, including Taraba and Zamfara, were discussed.

On what to expect after the deployment of troops in Zamfara, Dan-Ali said, “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 efforts were being intensified to secure the release of Leah Sharibu, the Dapchi schoolgirl still being held by Boko Haram because she allegedly refused to renounce Christianity.

Meanwhile, Ekiti State Governor Ayodele Fayose has queried Buhari’s approval of the $1 billion for the procurement of security equipment. He described the approval as “pooling of public funds for the purpose of funding President Buhari’s reelection as well as the coming governorship elections in Ekiti and Osun states.”

The governor demanded to know whether or not the $1 billion is from ECA. “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 the spending of funds belonging to the three tiers of government without the consent of the heads of other federating units.”

In a statement, Fayose asked: “When did the National Assembly approve the spending of the $1 billion, or can the president spend $1 billion belonging to Nigerians without the approval of the National Assembly?

“Nigerians require explanations from the Federal Government as to where the $1 billion will be sourced because the president lacks power to unilaterally spend money from the ECA not even when there is a pending suit by Ekiti State local council chairmen, challenging the powers of the 36 state governors to purportedly execute the constitutional duty of the Federal Government without their consent.”

Fayose said “another question the Federal Government must answer is: which insurgency are they buying arms worth N370 billion to fight, is it the same Boko Haram that they told Nigerians they had completely defeated?

“Since they said they had defeated Boko Haram, and later told Nigerians that they had ceasefire agreement with the insurgents, what else do they need a whopping $1 billion (over N370 billion) for, if not to fund the 2019 elections?

“Also, up till now, the government is yet to give satisfactory explanations as to the abduction and return of the Dapchi schoolgirls. With the hurried approval of $1 billion, is it not being reinforced that the Boko Haram insurgency has become a source of looting public funds by this government?

“It is on record that Transparency International (TI) 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.”

The governor reiterated his challenge to the Federal Government to make available to Nigerians, how the money released by international donors for the fight against Boko Haram was spent.

“Like I have maintained, they are building a very huge financial war chest towards the 2019 elections and our treasury is daily being looted to achieve this. One of such means is the $1 billion approved by the president, purportedly for the procurement of arms to fight a Boko Haram insurgency they claimed to have defeated,” Fayose said.

 

 

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