By Henry Umoru
Governors under the aegis of Nigeria Governors’ Forum, NGF, said, yesterday, that the removal of security votes for them would be inimical to development.
The governors noted that the abolition of security votes would, aside from stifling development, increase insecurity and slow down the various states’ response to emergencies.
Speaking, yesterday, in Abuja, Chairman of NGF and governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi, argued that abolition of security votes, as being advocated by many in the country, would breed chaos in the polity.
According to him, the removal will not curb corruption as is being widely believed, as there is no development without security.
Fayemi stated this at a quarterly policy dialogue on accountability for security votes, organised by Anti-Corruption Academy of Nigeria, ACAN, at the ICPC Auditorium, Abuja.
The Governors’ Forum chairman, in his keynote address, entitled “Security Votes: Are they necessary? Are they legitimate?” quoted from various authorities and sources, including books written by such First Republic icons as Chief Jerome Udoji.
He argued that security vote had existed even before the coming of the military to power in Nigeria, stressing that doing away with it will, instead of addressing corruption, hinder development and security in the country.
Fayemi faulted those who said security votes were illegal, quoting from the constitution and other relevant authorities to emphasize the fact that security votes were not only legal but have also been in existence since the colonial era.
“Governments all over the world have security votes but they may not call it the same name as ours because for obvious reasons, government business may not necessarily be in the public glare,” he said.
He attributed the Iran-Contra affair and other government action in South America as products of the use of security votes, which those governments conveniently put away from the eyes of their citizens.
He, however, stated that in his state, Ekiti, every transaction involving security votes was very well documented and receipted but nevertheless argued that unless something was done to ameliorate the malaise, the abuse of security votes in the country would continue to be rife.
He attributed his argument to the creation of state police, which he prescribed as the antidote to the expenditure being incurred by governors in the types of assistance they render to the Nigeria Police Force which, according to him, would diminish the complaints that abound.
Fayemi, however, advocated a partnership between NGF and ACAN to work out modalities that will lift the issue of security votes and its accounting processes to meet global best practices, to finally douse the hue and cry that had trailed the matter over time.
Earlier, the Provost of the Anti-Corruption Academy of Nigeria, Professor Sola Akinrinade, while welcoming the guest speaker, also enunciated that removing security votes would be counter-productive but cleared the grounds to hear the submissions of the governor.
On his part, the Chairman of ICPC, Professor Bolaji Owasanoye, who was miffed by the allocation of a paltry N3,600 as security votes to an MDA, sought explanation for the paltry vote.
This, Governor Fayemi explained, could not have been intended to mean that the amount was for such expenditure but might have been so called for want of nomenclature.