By Clifford Ndujihe, Deputy Political Editor
BY the end of the 2018 fiscal year, the Federal Government of Nigeria would have spent six trillion naira on Defence in 132 months, if budget appropriations since 2008 are anything to go by.
The huge allocation to Defence represents 10.51 per cent of the N58.001 trillion appropriated in the past 11 years.
The sum of N2.945 trillion (48.30%)or almost half of the hefty budget was spent in 2012, 2013, and 2014 (see table).
By the end of 2018, President Muhammadu Buhari would have spent N1.864 trillion (30.57%) or more of the 11 years Defence budget since coming to power on May 29, 2015.
If the National Assembly approves the President’s request for the sum of one billion dollars (about N350 billion) from the Excess Crude Account, ECA, to buy weapons to confront security challenges, the Defence budget in 11 years will rise to N6.5 billion.
Last February, President Buhari made the request following the approval of the National Economic Council, NEC. The one-billion-dollar request raised dust in the polity, causing division in the National Assembly.
The President’s letter was read on the floor of the Senate and referred to the Senator Shehu Sani-led Committee on Local and Foreign Debt. And the matter is still pending.
The remaining N4.234trillion naira, representing about 69.43% of the total allocation in 11years, was what the Jonathan administration spent – although he effectively became President and Commander-in-Chief in May, 2010.
According to Sunday Vanguard’s checks, in 2008, Defence got N444.6 billion (20.09%) of the N2.213 billion budget; and in 2009, N233 billion or 7.64% of the N3.049 trillion appropriated.
Other years are as follows: 2010-N264 billion (5.03%) of N5.248 trillion; 2011-N348 billion (7.0%) of N4.972 trillion; 2012-N921.91 billion (18.90%) of N4.877 trillion budget; and 2013-N1.055 trillion (21.16%) of the N4.987 trillion expenditure.
In 2014, Defence chalked up N968.127 billion or 19.51% of the N4.962 trillion appropriated.
The figure came down to N388.459 billion (7.67%) of N5.068 trillion budget in 2015.
For 2016, it was N429.128 billion (7.08%) of N6.061 trillion budget; and 2017, N465.87 billion or 6.26% of the final N7.444 trillion budget.
This year, the budget is N9.12 trillion of which Defence got N580.145 billion or 6.26%.
Curiously, in spite of this huge allocation to Defence, Nigeria has been entangled in unceasing whirling waves of insecurity.
There has been an upsurge in the herders/farmers clashes in most parts of the country especially in the Middle Belt region.
The Boko Haram insurgency that started fully in 2009 is still raging.
There are also rampant incidents of kidnapping, highway robberies and other violent crimes.
In 2017, the Global Terrorism Index ranked Nigeria as the fourth country with the highest number of deaths resulting from terrorism after Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria on account of the 1,832 deaths linked to terrorist acts in 2016.
Indeed, the International Crisis Group, ICG, a non-governmental organization working to prevent war, in a new report, has just revealed that the violence between herders and farmers in Nigeria had claimed six times more lives than the Boko Haram insurgency in 2018.
Disclosing that 1,300 people had been killed in attacks in the Middle-Belt, with 300,000 people displaced, the report attributed the escalation of violence in 2018 to growing number of ethnic militias with illegal weapons, failure of the government to prosecute perpetrators, introduction of anti-grazing laws, and climate change among others.
The report urged the government to find urgent and lasting solutions to the problem because the conflict has dangerous religious and ethnic dimensions, explaining that the herders are manly Muslim Fulani’s and the farmers tend to be Christians – not in all but in almost all cases.
Specifically, it urged to “prosecute perpetrators of violence, disarm ethnic militias and local vigilantes, and begin executing long-term plans for comprehensive livestock sector reform.”