Chris Steven, Abuja
The Concerned Citizens Coalition for Change (CCCC) has written a letter to Kemi Adeosun, Minister of Finance, urging her to look into and also seek ways of ensuring the proper implementation of the Ministry of Defence budget.
The coalition in a letter to the Minister signed by Solomon Semaka, its National Coordinator, said it has monitored the anti-terrorism war in Nigeria’s north-east and came to a conclusion that Nigerians have been irredeemably shortchanged to an extent that there should be consequences in addition to urgent remedial actions.
He said the Defence budget has performed poorly and this is having negative impact on the war against terrorism.
“This has manifested in the ability of Boko Haram’s straggling fighters to regroup into new threats while military forces desperately wait for crucial releases to fund the next phases of procurements for operations.
“Poor budgetary performance may be reluctantly tolerable in non-sensitive sectors of the national life but is totally a taboo where the security of the country is concerned.
“Poor implementation poses risk to the military as too many things can go wrong when critical procurements like service parts for aircrafts, fighting gears and other consumables are not procured or maintenance contractual obligations are defaulted upon.
“Aside the risk that such poses to the military, there is the possibility of Boko Haram terror group bouncing back if something is not urgently done to reverse the situation.
“The Honorable Minister might have noticed that only the Nigerian Air Force, apparently out of patriotism for the fatherland, has continued to innovatively circumvent the limitations imposed by poor budget implementation to continue aerial bombardment of terrorist bases.
“The Air Force has locally sourced or fabricated critical spare parts to address the paucity of funds for procuring the foreign made versions. While this has given the Federal Government and Nigerians value for money, this is not an ideal situation.
“The insinuation making the round is that the Air Force was responsible for the attack which led to the death of its sister organization’s personnel. But our finding is that the Air Force is doing it’s best but cannot go beyond what is provided by the Federal Government.
“Honourable Minister Ma, you must therefore be bold enough to own up to Nigerians your role in the death of innocent blood that have been shed in the last few months on account of your refusal to release funds to the military.
“For us this raises questions about the budgetary practices initiated under your watch that entails focusing on revenue generation without recourse to the imperative of ensuring that this takes place in a secured environment.
“The economy cannot recover neither can it grow if the military is not empowered to eradicate the Boko Haram menace and the other security breaches plaguing the country.
“As the focal person that ensures that budgets are transparently implemented using global best practice, we hold you wholly responsible for the failure to fund defence related project that will ensure that the Armed Forces are well situated to discharge their duty.
“May we also point out that your hands are soiled with the blood of military personnel that have died because of failing occasioned by late release of funds or failure to do so. The blood of the innocent civilians that die from Boko Haram still being able to launch attack is also on your conscience.
“We consequently demand that your office announces measures to ensure proper implementation of the budget in the course of the next 72 hours. This should be backed with measurable actions that must be outlined with specific milestones.
“Where the Honorable Minister of Finance fails to announce such measures within 72 hours of the receipt of this letter our Coalition would embark on a protest to the presidential villa from where we would lead the mother of all protests for a one-day total occupation of the Ministry of Finance, Abuja on Thursday October 2, 2017.
“At the end of the one day occupation of the Ministry of Finance Headquarters our focus would shift to demanding your resignation as the Minister of Finance on account that the only thing you have brought to Nigerians is hardship and death. Protesters shall then look to mobilizing a broader coalition that will incorporate other groups with purpose of making it a Nationwide and sector-wide shutdown until President Muhammadu Buhari bows to the wishes of Nigerians and show you the way out.
“We have the understanding of the various security agencies to peacefully escort the protest because the issue at hand directly affects their safety. Other civil society organizations have been contacted and mobilization is in progress to bring Nigerians unto the streets in their thousands to join the demand that the budget for defecence be properly implemented and not subjected to delays for the Minister of Finance’s personal interest.
“We look forward to your cooperation in handling this matter in the best interest of the country”he said