By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor
LAGOS—THE allocation of $1 billion from the Excess Crude Accounts, ECA, to address threats from Boko Haram and other conflict issues in the country is not too much in the light of continued threats against lives and property, the Federal Government has said.
Speaking in defence of the approval of $1 billion from the Excess Crude Account by the Nigerian Governors Forum, NGF, the Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism, Alhaji Lai Mohammed cautioned that issues pertaining to the security of the country must not be put on the altar of politics, noting that the ruling party was itself also once in opposition and was itself careful on those issues.
Mohammed, who addressed newsmen in Lagos, yesterday, also affirmed that the $1 billion would also be applied towards addressing other security threats, including illegal oil bunkering, kidnapping and cattle rustling.
Noting that criticisms to the allocation of the fund were unnecessary, he said: “The fact that Boko Haram has been largely degraded does not mean the war is over. As we have said times without number, asymmetric wars like the one against Boko Haram do not end with an armistice. It is therefore, curious that some of those who have criticised the $1billion approval have hinged their argument on the fact that the Boko Haram has been degraded. Perhaps also, the critics do not know that fighting an asymmetric war is costlier than fighting a conventional war. In any case, wars, especially the war against terror, are never fought with budgetary provisions.
“The Scriptures say to whom much is given, much is expected. That also presupposes that to whom much is expected, much is given. The Nigeria Governors Forum acted wisely in approving the withdrawal of $1bn from the ECA to fight Boko Haram and other security challenges in the country.
“Now, is $1bn too much for the military to tackle these challenges at this time? I say not by any stretch of imagination. After all, security of lives 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.
“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 $1bn 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.
“Had the military been better equipped to tackle Boko Haram in the early days of the insurgency, thousands of lives, including those of our service men and women, could have been saved; the war could have been over a long time ago. If the funds meant to equip the military have not been diverted into private pockets, there may be no need today to withdraw any money from the ECA for that purpose.”