Buhari okays $1bn for procurement of military equipment
…Says army to establish brigade in Zamfara, Katsina
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru & Henry Umoru
ABUJA — PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has approved the release of $1 billion for the procurement of military equipment to fight insecurity in the country.
The approval came as heads of security formations in the country assured that the remaining abducted Dapchi schoolgirl, Leah Sharibu, who’s still being held by Boko Haram insurgents because she refused to convert to Islam from Christianity, will be released.
Briefing State House correspondents after the security meeting the President had with service chiefs at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, yesterday, Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali, who disclosed this, also said that a brigade will be set up in Katsina and Zamfara states to confront insecurity in the areas, adding that the security meeting was a normal meeting of security agencies in the country.
He said: “As usual, we discussed the current activities that affected most of the states in the federation, such as Taraba, Zamfara and others. What I can add, after all that I have said is to inform you that of recent, our leader, President Muhammadu Buhari, gave approval for the purchase of more equipment for the military, worth $1 billion.”
On what to expect after the deployment of soldiers in Zamfara, Dan-Ali said: “Well, as usual, we have operationalised a division in Sokoto, there will be a brigade in Katsina and another brigade in Zamfara that will take care of security situation in those areas.”
On how that will resolve the issue, he said: “Of course, the strength of security personnel has increased, including the Air Force additional quick response group, they have added enough manpower in that area.”
On Leah Sharibu’s release, Dan-Ali said: “Well, we are making all available efforts to see that the girl is returned safely.”
Recall that Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State had on December 14, 2017, while briefing State House correspondents, disclosed that National Economic Council, NEC, approved the withdrawal of $1billion from Excess Crude Account, ECA, by the Federal Government to fight Boko Haram insurgency in the North-East.
He had said: “The National Economic Council also resolved through the chairman of the Governors’ Forum to support the effort of the Federal Government in the area of security.
“Pleased with the achievements that have been made to date in the fight against insurgency, particularly in the North-East, the governors of Nigeria, through their chairman, announced at the NEC meeting that the governors have given permission to the Federal Government to spend $1billion in the fight of insurgency. This money is supposed to be taken from the Excess Crude Account.”
The approval by NEC last year had generated controversy among the governors as some governors of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, dissociated themselves from approving such money to the executive to fight insecurity.
Presidency can’t approve— Senate
Meanwhile, Senate, yesterday, took a swipe at the Presidency, saying only the Senate has such powers to give approval for such money to be spent.
Speaking with Vanguard yesterday, Vice Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Publicity, Senator Ben Murray-Bruce (PDP, Bayelsa East) said the presidency cannot spend such amount of money until the National Assembly approves it.
Bruce said: “It has not been approved, it is simply the choice of words. The presidency or the executive cannot spend a single kobo on such a mission unless the National Assembly approves that. It is only when the Senate or the National Assembly approves that, that the executive can go ahead to spend such money. The executive can only recommend and not to approve.”