-Lai Mohammed explains why federal government is planning to spend as much as $1 billion on Boko Haram and insecurity.
-The minister also blamed the PDP for diverting funds meant for the military into private pockets.
-He also stated their is no partisanship in the approval of the fund while promising judicious use of the money for the purpose for which it was approved.
Lai Mohammed defends $1b ECA fund voted for Boko Haram war.
Nigeria’s minister of information and culture, Lai Mohammed, has over the weekend, criticized those condemning plans by the federal government to use $1 billion from the Excess Crude Account to fight Boko Haram insurgency and other insecurities in the country.
The minister, warned that though Boko Haram has been significantly weakened, the war was not in any way over.
Speaking with newsmen in Lagos over the weekend, the minister further revealed that up to 64,021.08 litres of fuel per day was been used by fighter jets and helicopters, and at N275 per litre, it costs a total of N15,153,428.25 daily to fuel the air crafts been used in the fight against Boko Haram insurgents.
Lai Mohammed also blamed past administrations of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who he claimed diverted funds meant to equip the military into personal use for the huge amount that is still been spent in combating insecurity in the country.
“The NGF acted wisely in approving the withdrawal of $1 billion from the ECA to fight Boko Haram and other security challenges in the country.” He said.
“Now, is $1 billion too much for the military to tackle these challenges at this time? I say not by any stretch of imagination.”
“Security of life and property is at the core of the existence of any government, and the NGF understands this quite well, going by its action in approving the withdrawal from the ECA.”
“Let us get down to the brass tacks by looking at the operations of just one arm of the Nigerian Armed Forces, in this case the Nigerian Air Force, in tackling just one of the security challenges facing the nation, let us take the Boko Haram insurgency.”
“The aircraft being used for the war, including fighter jets and helicopters, altogether consume 64,021.08 litres of fuel per day. With the aircraft flying a total of about 30 sorties a day, and at N275 per litre, it costs a total of N15,153,428.25 daily to fuel the aircraft.”
“The spares for the aircraft from January to November 2017 cost N20,019,513,739.88, while consumables for the aircraft, and here I am talking of engine oil, plugs etc, amounted to N3,863,600 monthly and N46,363,200.00 yearly.”
“What about the cost of ammunition? Just for 42 days, from November 5 to December 17, the cost of ammunition was over $5 million.”
“Since we are using the Air Force as a reference point here, what about the cost of acquiring Air Force platforms?”
“For example, the 12 Super Tuscano aircraft recently approved for sale to Nigeria by the US Government cost a whopping $490 million, yet this is government to government contract, and the costs of spares, munitions and other consumables are not included!”
“Let us remember that the costs stated above are for the Air Force alone and restricted to operations in the North East. We have not even talked of the Army or the Navy, which are also fully involved in tackling internal security challenges in the country.”
“Neither have we included the operating cost of the Nigerian Air Force in the Niger Delta to curb pipeline vandalism, in the North West to contain cattle rustlers, in the North Central to curtail herdsmen and farmers clashes or kidnappings, armed robberies and separatism in other parts of the country.”
“There is nothing wrong in the opposition offering constructive criticism. We understand this clearly because we were in the trenches until May 29, 2015. Democracy allows the citizens to freely air their opinions.”
“But it is not a licence for anyone to distort facts, engage in crass sensationalism or bring partisanship to every issue, not the least one that concerns the security of the nation.”
“Those who viewed this $1billion approval by the NGF from the prism of partisanship are wrong. The military is undoubtedly the most national of all our institutions. “It serves all Nigerians, irrespective of their religion, ethnicity or political party. It should never be dragged into the partisan arena.”
“Ours is a disciplined government that does not allow allocated funds to end up in private pockets or spent on prayers. We will always empower the military and other security agencies to be better able to carry out their tough tasks.”