Reps decry purchase of N4.9b military uniforms from foreign markets
• Seek patronage of local producers, reversal on increase of access gate charges at airports
Between 2015 and 2016, the Federal Government spent N4. 9 billion on the procurement of military and paramilitary uniforms and allied materials from foreign countries.
The procurement of the items including footwear, berets, belts, cardigans, head warmers and branded stockings, from foreign markets is now a source of concern to the House of Representatives.
A member of the House, Mr. Prestige Ossy (Aba: Abia: APGA) drew the attention of his colleagues to the development via a motion of urgent public importance at the plenary session presided over by Speaker Yakubu Dogara.
He said the rate of dependence on foreign markets for almost everything used in Nigeria had become alarming.
Shedding light on the expenditure, Ossy disclosed that the N4. 3 billion spent on the items in 2016, when converted to dollars at the current rate of N305, amounted to $14. 1 million while the N1. 6 billion earmarked in the 2015 budget at the benchmark rate of N197 per dollar amounted to $8. 1 million.
He expressed the fear that if patronising foreign markets and trading in foreign currency continued, there was no way the government policy of foreign currency conservation could be achieved.
According to Ossy, such uniforms and other items could be produced locally and procured from indigenous markets at far more reduced prices. He said it behoved the government to put in place palliative measures in the form of grants and loans to empower indigenous textile factories to meet local demand for such clothing and other material needs of Nigerians.
According to Ossy, if the items were manufactured locally, it would boost the economy by way of foreign exchange.
The lawmakers adopted the motion and mandated the Bank of Industry to assist producers of garments, shoes and other materials with soft loans to procure modern machines.
They also mandated the House Committee on Defence and Industries to ensure that uniforms and other materials of the Nigerian Army, Navy, Air Force, Customs, Immigration, Police, Civil Defence, Nigerian Prison Service and Nigerian Fire Service as well as health workers were produced locally.
Also, yesterday, the House demanded a reversal of ongoing move to increase rates of access gate charges by the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).
Adopting a motion sponsored by Mr. Rotimi Agunsoye (Kosofe: Lagos: APC), who described the move as insensitive to the plight of the average Nigerian, the House directed FAAN to immediately suspend the planned increase slated for October 1, 2016.
The lower chamber also mandated its committee on aviation to engage the management of FAAN to offer an explanation on the proposed increase.
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