By Sanni Onogu, Abuja
With N800 billion proposed as supplementary budget for defence, the military has no excuse not to decisively prosecute the war against insurgency and rid the country of all forms of criminality, Senate Committee on Army Chairman Ali Ndume said yesterday.
The N800 billion request is to support the military in its war against Boko Haram in the Northeast.
In a statement to mark this year’s Democracy Day, Ndume said: “On the issue of insecurity, I have been advocating an increase in the military funding but that has now been done by the recent submission of the supplementary budget of over N800 billion by the executive arm of government to the National Assembly, majority of the money is meant to address the security challenges in the country. This is a commendable effort by President Buhari.
“With this now, there is light at the end of the tunnel because if the materials and necessary military hardware and equipment are immediately purchased, and handed over to the military, I am sure that the Nigerian Army who are known for their gallantry in international assignments will be able to do more to defend the internal security challenges confronting Nigeria.”
The All Progressives Congress (APC) senator (Borno South), commended Buhari on his Democracy Day broadcast, saying Nigerians had been eager and worried over his continued silence on critical national issues in recent times.
He congratulated Nigerians on the commemoration of the June 12 Democracy Day, and urged the President to continue to update Nigerians on issues of national importance on quarterly basis.
Ndume said: “I commend the President, Muhammadu Buhari, for his decision to be speaking out to Nigerians because the people have been eager and worried over his continued silence on critical national issues in recent times.
“Many Nigerians are now happy that their President has started talking to them once again. I therefore encourage him to be doing that intermittently, if possible, on quarterly basis.”
He urged the Federal Government to spend borrowed money on critical infrastructure and possibly agriculture and not on payment of salaries and other recurrent expenditure.
The senator said: “Concerning the issue of foreign borrowings, the problem is not about borrowing because the idea is not bad. Even developed nations also do the same thing.
“It is what the government do with the money that is important. The concentration on infrastructure development by the Buhari administration, especially in the area of railway and roads is commendable.
“The Federal Government should look at the possibility of borrowing for agricultural development so that our people will move from subsistence farming to a mechanised one.
“If that is achieved, it will generate employment and guarantee food security. Also, there would be no need for Nigeria to spend foreign exchange on food importation.
“We can produce all types of food in Nigeria only if the farmers are well funded. The borrowings should be spent on purchase of farm implements and other farming machinery and make it available to farmers.
“The external loans should also be used to fund moribund industries especially textile and spare part manufacturing among others.
“It is only through that the government can guarantee borrowings because the manufacturing industries will come up again through the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria.
“The government can serve as a guarantor for the loans so that MAN would coordinate the process of rescucitating the moribund industries that had been closed down.
“The loans should be borrowed from the international lending agencies whose terms are very good in order to develop our road infrastructure and mount toll plazas in order to generate revenue to pay back the loans.
”Borrowings should not be made to defray recurrent expenditure like payment of salaries. Funding for such purposes should be sourced locally from taxes and other internally generated revenues.”