Opinion: 2017 Ministry of Defence budget analysis

by Saatah Nubari

 

This is the second piece in my 2017 budget analysis series. The first analysis focused on the budget of the State House (which was referred to as the Presidency in previous budgets).

MINISTRY OF DEFENCE

Today, we will take a look at the budget for the Ministry of Defence. The Ministry of Defence has a total budget of 465,488,229,573. Of this amount, 140,000,000,000 will be the total capital budget while 325,488,229,573 will be the total recurrent budget. The total overhead cost stands at 39,999,500,080 and the total personnel cost is 285,488,729,493.

The Ministry of Defence has 15 agencies under it and they are as follows; Federal Ministry of Defence Headquarters, Defence Headquarters, Nigerian Army, Nigerian Navy, Nigerian Airforce, Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), National Defence College, Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Nigeria Armed Forces Resettlement Centre-Lagos, Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria (DICON), Defence Intelligence School, Defence Intelligence Agency, Defence Missions, Defence Space Agency, and the Military Pension Board.

The “Rehabilitation of National War Museum Umuahia” will cost the Ministry of Defence 55,208,000. This does not look like it has a problem, but it does.  This so-called rehabilitation of the National War Museum in Umuahia has been showing up in budgets for a while now and the tags change from “New“ to “Ongoing” once in a while, which is very odd. Firstly, in the 2014 budget, 30,184,902 was set aside for this item and it was tagged as a “New” project. In 2015, the previous government budgeted for it again, and this time it was given a tag of “Ongoing” with a sum of 27,054,330. In the 2016 budget, which happens to be the first budget of this administration, 28,300,848 was budgeted for it and this time around it was given the “New” project tag. This year, the “Rehabilitation” must continue by fire by force, so 55,208,000 has been budgeted for it.

The Ministry of Defence Headquarters budgeted 2,350,954,000 for “PHCN Outstanding Debt.” The budget for this same debt in 2016 was the same amount bringing the total to about five billion. This particular item needs a lot of explanations. How did the Ministry of Defence Headquarters rack up a power “debt” of close to five billion Naira? Let us say they were getting this “light” of a thing, then what has been happening to their budget for “Electricity Charge” running into millions each year? Or let us assume they under budgeted, then why keep under budgeting for it each year? There are many questions that need answers concerning this particular item and I expect someone from the Ministry to step up and shed more “light” on this since they seem to be having too much of it lately.

Last year the government budgeted 437,830,218 for the “Establishment Of A Military Industrial Complex Through Public Private Partnership: Committee MEETINGS.” I capitalised “MEETINGS” for a reason. In this year’s budget, after all the “meetings” done in 2016, they have finally agreed on 450,000,000 for the “Establishment of a Military Industrial Complex.” We thank God for meetings.

In 2015 there was a budget for the “Implementation of the FOI Act” and it cost us 17,925,756. In the 2017 budget, there is a new provision for the “Implementation of the FOI Act” and 20,771,000 is the amount budgeted for it. If we can get a breakdown of how this “Implementation” of the Freedom of Information Act actually works, we will be very grateful.

“Completion of PTI School and Games Village, Esa Oke” has a 2017 budget of 328,046,013. I tried to go through the budget for previous years and I noticed something shocking. In the 2012 budget, 254,000,000 was budgeted for this same item. In the 2014 budget it was put as a “New” project and another 271,201,474 was budgeted for it. In the 2015 budget it was said to be an “Ongoing” project and 287,131,728 was budgeted for it. Also, in the 2016 budget it all of a sudden became a “New” project with a budget of 208,435,078. I could not get hold of budgets for the other years, but it looks like projects that have already been done years back are usually brought forward with huge sums appended to them. Imagine where all these monies will end up, in whose pocket it will end up.

Nothing scares me more in the budget of the Ministry of Defence Headquarters than the 1,204,887,222 budget for “Governance and Institutional Reforms.” And lest I forget, there is another 141,456,000 for “Reform Communications.”

So that you don’t get it twisted, there is the Federal Ministry of Defence Headquarters and a Defence Headquarters and they have different budgets.

The Defence Headquarters has a 700,000,000 budget for the “Construction of Armed Forces Specialist Hospital.” In 2012, the budget for the same item was 294,060,000. In 2014, there was also a budgetary provision and it was 307,675,500. In 2015, what was budgeted for it was 307,000,000 while in 2016 it was 700,000,000. Since I could not get hold of previous budgets, I cannot tell if they have been budgeting for the “Construction” of this wonderful “Armed Forces Specialist Hospital” since1914, but it is very possible as we can be mad in this country.

The Nigerian Army plans to spend a whopping 500,000,000 for the “Purchase of Lifejackets for NA Troops in the Niger Delta.” If the life jackets are gotten for, let’s say N10,000 per piece, that translates to 500,000,000 for 50,000 pieces. I never knew after the launch of the “Operation Crocodile Smile,” that we will still need life jackets for our smiling crocodiles..

1,257,019,784 is what the Nigerian Defence Academy has budgeted for the “Construction of a Sports Complex,” while 500,000,000 will be used to provide a “Central Sewage System.” I can tell we are diversifying from oil, and shit is the new gold.

In 2016, the Nigerian Defence College budgeted 5,008,869,670 for the “Construction of Office Buildings” and another 794,034,386 for the “Construction of Residential Buildings.” In our 2017 budget, there happens to be a vague “Construction/Provision of Infrastructure” that will cost 1,836,604,740. I did a Google search for the definition of “Infrastructure” just to be sure I was not misunderstanding. Infrastructure means “the basic physical and organizational structures and facilities (e.g. buildings, roads, power supplies) needed for the operation of a society or enterprise.” Going by this definition, items like “Recreational Facilities,” “Residential Buildings,” and “Office Buildings” should be covered, but they are not. You can still find a 5,258,867,670 budget for the “Construction/Provision of Office Buildings,” bringing the amount the Nigerian Defence College will spend in two year just on office buildings to over ten billion Naira. There is also another 1,514,975,830 for the “Construction of Residential Buildings.” I have purposely not included the budget for previous years to save time and space, since you can already draw conclusion from what you can see here.

The Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Jaji, will spend 611,500,000 for the “Purchase of College Vehicles and 1,287,521,000 for the “Construction of State of the Art College Library and Hall of Fame.”

“Construction/Renovation of Trainees Accommodation at NAFRC through Direct Labour” appears twice in the Nigeria Armed Forces Resettlement Centre budget, with 200,655,889 earmarked for each. Same project was in the 2016 budget and 354,396,031 was the amount.

2,164,149,774, being the entire capital budget of the Defence Intelligence School, has been budgeted for the “Construction of College Infrastructure.” That is vague enough to get the deed done.

The Defence Intelligence Agency will spend 873,249,348 on the “Rehabilitation of Staff Quarters,” 1,200,000,000 on the “Purchase of Accommodation,” and 2,885,277,481 on “Establishment of Defence Section in the Embassy of Nigeria in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.” That is almost three billion Naira for a “Defence Section” in our embassy in Saudi Arabia? I am not understanding. Here is the topping in this awful budget; 1,088,034,929 is budgeted for something as vague and undescriptive as “Construction.” I guess we are all supposed to guess what they plan to “construct.”

In 2016 the Defence Missions budgeted a staggering 4,651,145,158 for the “Purchase of Residential Buildings.” In 2017, since the number of homeless people is expected to increase, they had to double up and spend an extra 4,175,620,745 for the same thing.

So, we have come to the end of the second part of the series. The third part will focus on the budget of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The omission—which I think is on purpose—of the status of projects, which in previous budgets was either “New” or “Ongoing” from the 2017 budget has made analysing it more complex. You end up with a document where you have no idea what is new or not and what exists or not.

 


Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija

 

Saatah Nubari tweets @Saatah

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