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Experts blame lack of transparency in military procurement for worsening insecurity

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Nigerian Army PHOTO: Twitter

Experts have blamed the increased rate of insecurity in Nigeria on lack of transparency and accountability in military budgeting and procurement processes.

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They submitted that lack of transparency in the procurement process of the armed forces encourages corruption.

The experts also identified corruption, unhealthy rivalry among the forces and politics as the factors responsible for the poor performance of the country’s military.

After decades of underfunding its military, Nigeria’s defence budget has increased substantially during the past 10 years. Yet the performance of the country’s military remains poor. And the country’s security challenges continue.

The Guardian investigation revealed that the procurement of military weapons are usually shrouded in secrecy which means that outdated items instead of modern weapons are usually purchased.

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The National Security Adviser, Major General Babagana Monguno (retd.), recently alleged that $1bn funds meant to purchase arms to tackle insurgency during the ex-service chiefs’ tenure got missing, a statement that generated controversy.

Monguno, had in an interview with the Hausa Service of the British Broadcasting Corporation early that Friday, alleged that neither the funds nor the weapons the ex-service chiefs were meant to buy could be traced.

Monguno added that the Nigerian Governors’ Forum was also wondering where all the funds meant for arms went. According to him, the President will soon order a probe into the matter.

However, in a statement by his office, the NSA recanted his earlier allegations, saying he was quoted out of context.

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But a Former Department of State Service (DSS) Director, Mike Ejiofor, said there must be stringent oversight functions from National Assembly to checkmate corruption in the procurement process of the military.

Ejiofor added that National Assembly members must shun bribes that hinder them in doing a thorough job during budget presentation and approval.

“We have the National Assembly that carries out oversight functions, are they doing their oversight? You also see that in the National Assembly, instead of carrying out oversight functions which they are charged to do, they also want to get a piece of the action, thereby cutting corners.

“There must be stringent oversight function to ensure that the money budgeted is spent on what it was meant for. There should be constant auditing of the military spendings.

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Speaking further, he said “We need to know how much have been budgeted, what has been bought and if they have been out in use. It will be a sweeping statement to say that the military is not justifying it’s huge expenditure over the years.

“First of all, have all their needs been meet? You are aware that a lot of people are talking of corruption, do you cannot blame the entire military, there are some people who are still committed in the military and who wants to see this war ended, but because of corruption in leadership and misappropriation of funds. So, it will be wrong to make a sweeping statement that the military is not justifying their huge budget. The fact remains that budget for the military is not even adequate.

On his part, retired police commissioner and security analyst Lawrence Alobi noted that the Nigerian security agencies are powerless because they lack the operational intelligence to thwart the activities of criminal organizations in the country.

He said “In Nigeria, Gumi is now the one who knows where the bandits are, that is an interlegence failure. How can Gumi’s intelligence network be more effective than that of the entire state? It is very absurd and for me, it is not acceptable at all.

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“We need to rejig our interligence network and our security agencies should also work together. There should not a competition about who will be the best, we should work to achieve a common goal. Our common goal is to ensure that our territory is not in the hands of any terrorist group.

“The government, security agencies and the people have to also work together with a common purpose. Our can we be negotiating with criminals who have been killing people, where that kind of idea come from?

He added that unhealthy rivalry among the armed forces and other security agencies is also hampering the nation’s fight against insurgency and banditry.

“We need to have a wholistic synergy between the security agencies. Our interligence network has failed. If our interligence network is effective, before Boko Haram will move with large number of children, we should have interligence to intervene and ensure that we prevent such thing, but our intelligence network is almost collapsing.

“We need to look at these things from the wholistic point of view and not just the amount that we spend in the military. What are the training needs, what are the equipment needs; security is technologically driven. How are we employing technology in our security architecture. In other countries, they just don’t deploy manpower, they also deploy technology.

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According to him “Budgeting is based on needs, it is based on what you want to use the money for. I don’t know how much have been budgeted and wether it was done in line with the needs of the military.

Security is capital intensive, especially when you consider the level of insecurity we are facing. Some people just look that the money, we need to look at it wholistically and determine what is their needs. You don’t just buy equipment, you need people that will operate them. What if people who are supposed to man the equipment don’t have the capacity, motivation and commitment?

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