Expert bemoans poor budgetary funding for defence, transportation, power sectors

A maritime security expert and former Director with the Global West Vessel Specialist Nigeria Limited (GWVSL), a firm once saddled with providing maritime security at the nation’s waterways, Mr Leke Gbenga Oyewole has bemoaned the paltry N200bn budgeted for Defence by the President Mohammadu Buhari administration in the 2020 budget presentation.

Speaking to TribuneOnline exclusively, Oyewole stated that the N100bn budgeted for Defence is not even enough to cater for the Nigerian Navy alone. According to the former GWVSL Director: “How can we budget N100bn for Defence when the Navy alone needs more than that to tackle the myriads of security issues confronting it?

“I am saying this because I know that the Navy is not a commercial entity that can raise funds. The Navy has hardware’s to take care of, they have the training to undertake. How much is N100bn when converted to Dollars? Before NNS Aradu went bad, she will take 15 trailer loads of fuel before she goes out to sea. How much is a trailer load of fuel? You can do the calculations yourself. Aside from fuel, NNS Aradu will take freshwater, not seawater, and engine oil in large quantity before going out to sea for just a limited number of days, not for the whole year. That is for one ship.

“So when you have a Navy that has more than three or four types of ships in the mould of NNS Aradu in its fleet, then you should be looking at more than 50 trailer loads of fuel to make them go to sea for some days, which is still not sufficient to cover the Nigerian waters.

“The same thing applies to the Nigerian Air Force (NAF). The complaint in recent times is that the NAF does not have sufficient radar coverage over the nation. That is bad enough. We have insurgency issues in the North East. Bandits are terrorizing us in the North West. There are security issues across the country, tell me, how can N100bn adequately boost the NAF to perform at an optimal level?

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“Government needs to look inwards and block revenue leakages. The idea of increasing taxes on the people won’t get us anywhere.”

Also speaking to TribuneOnline, the Managing Consultant, RTC Advisory Services Limited, Dr. Vincent Nwani stated that except the Federal Government looks to the private sector for funding, the monies budgeted in the 2020 budget for Transportation and Power are not enough to tackle the intermodal infrastructure and power supply issues bedevilling the nation at the moment.

In his words: “I think it will be fair to laud the Presidency for the timeline of the 2020 budget presentation to the National Assembly. Last year, Mr President didn’t present the 2019 budget until it was December of 2018. That next year’s budget is coming earlier is something commendable and we hope that the lawmakers will graciously expedite action on the budget and pass it quickly so that implementation and monitoring processes can begin.

“On the budget itself, the whole figures, that is the budgetary provision for recurrent expenditure, capital expenditure and debt servicing, I have some concerns about them. I don’t see this budget being able to meet up to expectations because this is a budget of job creation, poverty reduction and a whole lot of things about prosperity.

“But we know that the government cannot do it all. Even if government budgets N1trillion each for power and transportation, it is still not enough because the nation’s infrastructural challenge is far more than that. The nation’s power supply challenge is far beyond the N127bn budgeted for. We know the government does not have the money to fix these issues, and that is why the government needs to make incentives available for the investing public.

“Domestic and foreign investors need to have incentives to come in. The government needs to make enabling laws and enabling regulations to unlock the private sector. It is by only doing these things that we can fix our power and transportation challenges because the monies budgeted for these issues are not enough.

“The government budgeted N100bn for defence, but it is still not enough. The best way to solve insurgency issues in the country is to provide jobs and reduce poverty in the country. The more people are fully engaged, the fewer people that get involved in criminally-minded activities.”

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