Molly Kilete, Abuja
The Federal Government, yesterday, lamented it was having difficulties financing the military, stressing that borrowing appears to be the only option left for it now was to keep the armed forces functioning.
The Accountant General of the Federation (AGF), Idris Ahmed, who disclosed this at the opening of the Nigerian Air Force Finance Training Workshop in Abuja, noted that the country had been running majorly deficit-budgets over many years and had had to borrow in order to part-finance the annual appropriation over the years.
According to him, while the 2016 appropriation was N2,947 billion, the variance stood at N908 billion or (23.56 per cent).
He further stated that in 2017, the appropriation was N4,405 billion, while the actual was N2,685 billion (39.04 per cent).
Also in 2018, the government appropriated N3,910 billion, whereas the actual revenue was N3,256 billion (45.22 per cent).
But the AGF said that in view of the challenges of insurgency, Boko Haram, nomadic/farmers clashes, abductions, kidnapping, rape, banditry and dwindling revenue, security financing has continued to attract unparalleled attention from the government as the military and security sectors have continued to receive the largest chunk of the annual budget in recent times.
“Despite the seemingly robust funding, NAF, in view of its strategic mandate in the overall protection of the nation’s territorial integrity, may perhaps do with enhanced funding to ensure that men and materials are sufficiently catered for to enhance their efficiency.
“The snag, however, is that with the daunting challenges of inadequate funding, the Service should think out of the box to be proactive in prudently managing available resources and also in developing alternative sources of funding for its activities.
“These may include a mix of government financing, donor-support and IGR, among others. Furthermore, it will not be out of place to start thinking of a broad-based Security Trust Fund concept to mobilise funds from the private sector and other good spirited individuals toward enhancing military/security funding, generally.
“Modern military requires specialists in all respects to successfully drive its core and other support mandates. Therefore, one way of overcoming the challenge of inadequate financing is the effective and efficient management of lean financial resources by competent and professional personnel in the face of competing demands.
In that respect, NAF would need to command the best in its officers through capacity building and thorough skill acquisition and exposure to the latest financial management programmes.”
In his address at the occasion, the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshall Sadiq Abubakar, said, “despite a decline in government allocation, the Nigerian Air Force, alongside sister Services, has been able to achieve commendable successes in counterinsurgency and the fight against armed banditry plaguing various regions of the country.