The All Progressives Congress (APC) has called on the National Assembly to urgently initiate a probe into how the budgetary allocations to the military have been spent in recent years, with a view to establishing whether or not the military is adequately empowered to effectively tackle the worsening scourge of terrorism in the country.
In a statement issued in Lagos on Thursday by its Interim National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said the National Assembly, in the exercise of its constitutional duties, must invite Service Chiefs and other relevant government officials to shed light on this issue.
It said the probe is important because of the insinuation in certain quarters about the ability and capability of the nation’s military in the ongoing battle against Boko Haram.
”The Nigerian military comes highly recommended globally because it has excelled, since 1960, in peacekeeping operations around the world. In fact, Nigeria is among the top troop contributors to global peacekeeping operations, by virtue of the acknowledged sterling performance of its military in the various missions
”Our military has also performed credibly in internal security operations in the past. If suddenly the ability and capability of this same military are being called to question in the ongoing battle against the Boko Haram terrorists, then something must have gone wrong.
”This is why we are calling on the National Assembly to find out whether or not the soldiers we are sending out to battle the insurgents are adequately equipped to carry out their duties; to find out whether their morale is at the right level; to find out whether the huge funds being allocated for security are being used for the right purposes.
”It is important to find out whether the huge funds which are being deposited into the bank accounts of politicians, or being used to lure them into the ruling party, are being taken from the allocation to security, in which case the purpose for which the funds were allocated in the first instance would have been defeated,” APC said.
The party said the National Assembly should not be deterred by those who say military or security expenditure cannot be probed or those who will read ”political meaning” to this call.
”The tendency for those who want to silence all the voices of reason to attribute political undertones to any statement, especially from the opposition, on the burning issue of terrorism will not and cannot silence us. We say, unequivocally, that our call is in the best interest of the nation, which is under siege from terrorists, and that it is also in line with global best practices
”During the Iraq war, the issue of whether or not the American troops battling insurgents across Iraq were adequately provided with the appropriate body armour and whether their armoured personnel carriers could withstand the enemy firepower were publicly debated without anyone accusing that country’s opposition of playing politics with security,” it said.
APC said its call becomes even more relevant and urgent after a serving Senator said on the floor of the legislative chamber that during a recent trip to the Sambisa Forest, regarded as the stronghold of the terrorists, the military armoured personnel carrier that was escorting his team broke down.
It said there have also been stories concerning the low morale of the troops on the battle front, cases of soldiers being given obsolete guns as well as cases of desertion.
”We do not know whether or not these stories are true. But what we do know is that something seems not to be right with the way we are waging the war against these terrorists, and the only way to know for sure is for the National Assembly to ask the pertinent questions,” APC said.
Meanwhile, the APC has commended the US, Britain, China and all the other countries that have offered to assist Nigeria to rescue the over 200 abducted girls, saying such offer of assistance was long overdue, in view of the global nature of terrorism.
The party expressed the hope that the assistance would extend beyond the rescue of the girls to also include all other strategic initiatives that will help Nigeria to crush the Boko Haram terrorist group.
It said, however, that the Jonathan Administration must realize that it is ultimately responsible for the safety and security of all Nigerians, hence cannot afford to shirk its responsibility in that regard.