Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
As part of efforts to increase funding for the armed forces, the House of Representatives, yesterday, passed for second a bill seeking to create special funding for the armed forces.
The bill, sponsored by the chairman, House Committee on Defence, is titled “A Bill for an Act to Provide Special Financial Support for the Revamping of the Nigerian Armed Forces with the Provision of Regular Training for Armed Forces Personnel and the Provision of Modern Security and Defence Equipment and other Related Matters.”
If the bill is eventually passed into law, the special funding shall consist of 1 per cent of the total money accruing to the Federation Account, 0.5 per cent of profit made from investment of the National Sovereign Wealth Fund by the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority, and an amount constituting 1 per cent of VAT remitted to the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
The special funding shall also include an amount constituting 1 per cent of the air ticket contract, charter and cargo sales charge to be collected by airlines and paid over to the support fund, as well as aid, grants and all assistance from international agencies, non-governmental organisations and the private sector.
Benson, in his lead debate, said the country could no longer rely solely on the annual budget for the funding of the armed forces, es§pecially in the face of rising security challenges. He stated that there was hardly any country funding its armed forces through annual budgets alone.
The lawmaker argued that, for the armed forces to discharge their responsibilities optimally, they needed more funding.
“Nigeria has witnessed diverse and unprecedented level of insecurity in recent times in which the Nigerian armed forces have been fully involved. They include curbing the menace of kidnappings, robbery, herders-farmers’ clashes, protection of the nation’s oil resources in the Niger Delta, banditry in the North-West and, most of all, the lingering Boko Haram insurgency in the North-East. This is apart from other security issues like cultism, oil bunkering, cattle rustling, piracy and smuggling that the armed forces are usually summoned to help contain.
“In the last 15 years, the Nigerian military have been involved in 13 operations and four exercises. Coping with all these are, no doubt, an enormous task that requires robust, well-trained, well-equipped and efficient armed forces.
“Unfortunately, the Nigerian military is unable to achieve optimum results because its funding has been ‘within limits of budgetary allocations,’ thereby compelling the armed forces to grapple with inadequate equipment and manpower. The ability of a military force to function effectively lies in the sufficiency and effectiveness of its platforms, weapons and men that operate these equipment. This informs the need for dynamic alternative funding approach for the Nigerian armed forces.
“Let me mention here that no nation funds its military through its annual budget alone.”