Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant, Media and Publicity to President Muhammadu Buhari, says those criticising the President for approving $1billion for the purchase of military equipment are just “blowing hot air”.
Justifying the need for the investment, Shehu said Nigeria is “still at war with Boko Haram” even though the insurgents had been “technically defeated”.
“I think a lot of the judgments are hasty. After the Federal Executive Council approval, ministers will go to the President, they will seek approval of the President of the council, the council will approve and then say go to the National Assembly,” Shehu said on Friday while featuring on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily.
“The process has begun, it’s not concluded. Therefore, everyone will be involved. The President will not breach the constitution of this country. Approval at that level is granted, there is nothing controversial.
“The Attorney-General will bring a draft bill to FEC, the President will approve and then say, take it to the National Assembly. The draft budget, before it got to the National Assembly, the FEC signed and approved it. I think the people are just blowing hot air.”
Ayodele Fayose, Governor of Ekiti State, had alleged that the All Progressives Congress-led administration wants to loot the $1billion to finance the 2019 presidential election and the July 14 governorship poll in his State.
While debunking the allegation, Shehu said the fund would be used to tackle insurgency, which is a challenge to the nation.
He insisted that Nigeria is at war with Boko Haram, although technically defeated, but the nation cannot rest on its oars in the insurgency fight.
“I think they don’t have anything to talk about that is why they are blowing hot air over this issue. There is a mandate given to elected leaders,” he said.
“This is a country that is at war with the insurgency, although technically defeated but the challenges are enormous. Thirty-four of the 36 states have military being deployed to them. People will say when you’ve defeated Boko Haram, why do you need funds? But if you check around, all over the world, the countries do most spending in peacetime.”
The $1billion fund, Shehu explained, would be evenly spread across various aspects of the nation’s security to restock troops’ arms and ammunition.
“There is Police and there is also the Military. It’s going to touch on every aspect of security in the country,” he explained.
“We are not talking about buying footwear or uniforms, which is routine. We’ll re-equip the military that has depleted much of its stock fighting criminality, insurgency and terrorism across the country.
“We need this money to restock the Nigerian Army, the Police; they ought to have arms that they can use in situations where they are needed.
“It’s not as if we have no idea of what to do with this money, it is also true there is still some finishing jobs to be done to Boko Haram.
There is a lot of attention that needs to be paid to the Police, to violence in the central sections of Nigeria, to challenges in the Delta, the Navy and all of these. There’s a lot to be done with this money.”