The Chairman of the Appropriation Committee of the House of Representatives, Muktar Betara (APC, Borno), has disclosed that a large chunk of defence spending is on recurrent expenditure with little left for capital and overhead.
Mr Betara stated that the lopsided nature of the expenditure is affecting the performance of the military in its fight against terrorists and other non-state actors.
He stated these while speaking to journalists on the passed amendment to the 2022 Appropriation Act.
He said the sum of N182 billion has been approved by lawmakers for the salaries of police officers.
The House Committee of Supply on Thursday considered the report of the Appropriation Committee on the amendment sought by President Muhammadu Buhari to the 2022 budget and approved the recommendations, which include the N182 billion allocated to the police.
Mr Buhari had in a letter dated the February 16 asked the House to amend the 2022 appropriation act by removing certain items inserted into the budget and other matters.
Mr Batera said the problem with the military is not recurrent expenditure, but rather overhead and the capital components of the defence budget.
He disclosed that salaries of officers of the Nigerian Army will gulp over N400 billion—while the capital component is about N30 billion, adding that the increment to the budget of the police will go into salaries.
“Where people talk that money is given to the army and the army does not do what is expected–80 percent of army’s budget is for salaries. Army’s overhead is just twenty-something billion naira. Army’s capital is thirty-seven billion naira while the army’s salary is four hundred and something billion. So, when you look at the budget, it will look like the army has money but it is per cent. So, it’s the same thing now. It looks like the police salary will go up when you look at it, it is recurrent spending–salary,” he said.
A member of the House, Ahmed Jaha (APC, Borno), had also raised concerns on the inability of the military to defeat ‘ragtag bandits’ operating in the North. The lawmaker described the military operations going on around the country as ‘cash cow business”.
The inability of the military to secure Nigerians has raised eyes brows despite the trillions voted for defence.
Granting Buhari’s request on projects inserted by lawmakers
Mr Betara also disclosed that the House approved some of the requests of the president on projects inserted by the lawmakers.
While signing the budget in December 2021, Mr Buhari had frowned at the removal of “critical projects’ and arbitrary insertions by the lawmakers and vowed to send an amendment bill to the chambers for the removal of those items.
The president said over N550 billion was allocated by the lawmakers at their discretion without considering the institutional capacity of the executing agencies.
Mr Betara said some of the cuts were done by the standing committees of the House, however, the Appropriation Committee has restored some of the line items based on merit.
“So, they (Executive) wanted us to return some of the items. And some of them we looked at, If it is genuine, we returned. Those that are not genuine, we refused to return,” he said.