The Senior Special Assistant to President Buhari on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu has dismissed reports that funds budgeted for the purchase of arms and ammunition for the war against insurgents have gone missing in the Buhari-led administration. According to him, things like that cannot happen under the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.
Garba Shehu was reacting to the report by BBC in which Babagana Monguno, the National security adviser was quoted to have said the newly appointed service chiefs did not meet the funds approved for arms purchase when they assumed office in January. Munguno has since denied the report, saying he was quoted out of context.
Appearing on Channels TV on Friday night, 12 March 2021, Garba Shehu said no part of the money earmarked for the procurement of military equipment is missing. He said the armed forces had made a lot of purchases, but the army has been having a bit of a problem with procurement which has been “coming in bits and in pieces.
According to his words; “I imagine you are talking about the $1 billion taken from the excess crude account with the consent from state governors and was used for military procurements. I want to assure you that nothing of that money is missing. The reference in the interview by BBC in the national security adviser in Hausa was untrue. I think it has been misconstrued and mistranslated,” Shehu Garba stated.
The National Security Adviser made two critical points. One is that we don’t have enough which is a statement of fact, and two is that, procurements made have not been fully delivered.
In August 2018, they allowed the Nigerian government to buy 12 super Tucano aircraft suitable for the kind of war we are fighting in the north-east. In addition to that, other arms of the military have also made procurements. The navy has done nearly 100 percent of their procurement equipment delivered.
The airforce has bought a number of attack helicopters, about 35 helicopters from Ukraine has been purchase by the Nigeria Airforce. Some of them have been commissioned on national television. We have bought a lot of drones, but with the army, there have been problems with procurement. Equipment has been coming bits and in pieces.
This is not ideal. In fact, our biggest procurement is coming from the United Arab Emirate. As I speak to you now, it is held up in a situation only diplomacy will resolve. We were talking to them last week. The Nigerian Minister of Defence actually had a meeting with the ambassador of the United Arab Emirate to Nigeria, and the idea is to resolve this so that the equipment held up will be released. We need them here.
So all these procurements are ongoing; nothing you can buy on the shelf. The National Security Adviser did not make accusations of misappropriation, because there is none in dealing with this matter. I have heard the interview on radio and I think, reasonably, I have a good understanding of it. At no point did the National Security Adviser say that money appropriated and there are no arms to be seen. They have not been delivered. Yes, that is correct, but the thing is that they are things you buy on order, not off the shelf.
The minister of finance is in the position to give you all of the details and I hope in the coming days, she should be able to render a full detail. I think people are just being political. They want to draw a moral equivalence between the PDP and APC administration. Well, they are not the same. Things like this cannot happen under the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.”