Samuel Bello, Abuja
Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) and Governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi and the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.Gen. Tukur Buratai, yesterday, disagreed on the expenditure of security votes by governors.
Fayemi said security votes should not be scrapped while Buratai said it has not been instrumental in addressing issues of internal security.
They spoke at the Quarterly Policy Dialogue on Accountability for Security Votes organised by the Anti-Corruption Academy of Nigeria (ACAN), the training arm of the ICPC, in Abuja, yesterday.
Security vote is a monthly allowance allocated for funding of security services within such states and it runs into billions of Naira based on the level of security required by individual state
Fayemi debunked the notion that security votes is unconstitutional and illegal.
“This is because in the Nigerian Constitution, the executive is entrusted with the responsibility of preparing a budget which is then sent to the legislature for ratification. The fact that huge amount of money are routinely being budgeted and expended in the name of security vote does not make it an illegal practice.”
He said the act of approving any sum allocated to such a heading (security vote), covert or overt, legalised the concept.
The governor explained that security vote was basically a budgetary term that covered the discreet expenditure of the activities related to the strengthening of security for the protection of lives and property of the citizenry.
“The main objective of the Fund is to support the various law enforcement agencies, mainly through the donation of arms and operational gadgets.
“All other states also make regular donations to the security agencies.”
He noted that security votes attracted more attention because of the seemingly none accountable nature of the expenditure under the budgetary provision.
Fayemi, however, called on the custodians of security votes to manage it judiciously with good sense of responsibility.
Buratai said the votes were not votes for defence and were also not meant for the armed forces.
“Strictly speaking, if you look at security votes in the true context, it is not meant to tackle insecurity.
“We have funding for Ministry of Defence and the armed forces. If you have budget lines for these services and organisations, then why security votes?
“However, it can be used for security; but it is not meant to solve insecurity,
“There are other votes which are constitutional which include the contingency fund,” he said.
Buratai explained that even though there was security vote that was generally applied, it must follow Public Procurement Act 2007.
He said there were several criticisms on security votes which were subjected to corruption, embezzlement and misappropriation.
The chief of army staff said that if security vote was made constitutional and proper guidelines were set out on how they were utilised, the issue will be laid to rest.
Chairman, Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Bolaji Owasanoye, said Nigeria needed to have parameters for appropriating and accounting for security votes without jeopardising national security.