Buhari okays $1 billion to buy arms

President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday approved the release of $1 billion for the procurement of equipment for the military to prosecute the fight against insecurity in the country.Buhari gave the approval at a meeting he held with the heads of the nation’s security agencies as the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) ‎failed to convene yesterday.

Those who attended the closed-door security meeting summoned by the president were Minister of Defence, Brigadier-General Mansur Dan-Ali (rtd); Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonishakin; Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai; Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Ibok Ekwe; National Security Adviser (NSA), Major General Babagana Mongunu (rtd); Director General of the Department of State Service (DSS), Lawal Daura and the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris.

Dan-Ali ‎who indicated that $1 billion was approved for the procurement of the equipment while briefing State House correspondents after the meeting, said the insecurity in Taraba, Zamfara and other states was also discussed.

The National Economic Council (NEC), at its meeting in Abuja last year December, had resolved that $1 billion be withdrawn from the Excess Crude Account (ECA) to boost the fight against insurgency by the military. ‎

The proposal to withdraw the $1 billion from the ECA account was flayed by some Nigerians who argued that only the National Assembly could make appropriations to the security agencies.

The minister of defence told journalists yesterday that ‎the military had “operationalised” a division in Sokoto, a brigade in Katsina and Zamfara states as well as a quick response group drawn from the Nigeria Air Force to boost the manpower that would take care of the security situation in that area.

According to him, concerted efforts are being made by government to secure the safe release of one of the abducted Dapchi schoolgirls, Leah Sharibu, still being held by the Boko Haram terrorists.The presidency did not give any official reason for the cancellation ‎of the FEC meeting which holds every Wednesday at the Presidential Villa, Abuja. The FEC is presided over by the president or vice president , with members of the cabinet, including the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Head of Service of the Federation (HoSF) and ministers in attendance.

This is the fourth time the council meeting would not hold since the inception of the Buhari’s administration in 2015.The first time the meeting was put off was on August 23, 2017. It did not hold because a committee headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo submitted a report to Buhari on Babachir Lawal, the then suspended Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), who was accused of corruption. The president had just returned from a 103-day medical vacation in the United Kingdom (UK).

On September 6, 2017, the Buhari administration failed to hold FEC meeting because the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said there was no enough time to prepare documents. This was owing to a two-day public holiday declared for the Eid-el-Kabir celebrations. The last time the meeting was put off was on February 28, 2018.

In a related development, the Nigerian Army plans to embark on research and development for the evolution of locally made military equipment that would assist the nation in contending the challenges of insecurity.

The Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, who spoke on the strategy yesterday said the emerging security challenges in the country had underscored such a development.Buratai spoke at the opening of the 2018 Nigerian Army Research and Development Conference holding at the Command Army Records, Lokoja, Kogi State.

According to Buratai, Nigeria cannot afford to continue to depend solely on the developed nations for all its military equipment in view of the attendant funding constraints, diplomatic and bureaucratic bottlenecks.The Chief of Army Staff who spoke through the Chief of Training and Operations, Nigerian Army Headquarters, Maj. Gen. David Ahmadu said the conference being coordinated by the Headquarters, Training and Doctrines (TRADOC) of the Nigerian Army was to afford participants an opportunity to brainstorm and contribute ideas that would improve on military research and development.

Powered by Afogboja E-Creation