The Minister of Defence, Maj Gen Bashir Salihi Magashi (rtd) has presented and defended the Ministry of Defence budget proposal of Three hundred and forty billion, three hundred and fifteen million, three hundred and fifty nine thousand, two hundred and fifty five naira ninety five kobo.(N340,315,359,255.95) for the 2021 fiscal year.
The Minister made the presentation before the 9 man Senator Aliyu Wamako led Senate Committee on Defence at the National Assembly Complex Abuja.
General Magashi who was supported by the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Defence, Hussaini Babangida said the budget is based on the 2020-2023 Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) as well as anchored on providing adequate security through strengthening the Tri-Services and other institutions under the Ministry to enable them perform their roles with all the necessary requirements.
While giving a breakdown of the budget proposal he explained that two billion, seventy six million, four hundred and nine thousand, eight hundred and forty four naira (N2,076,409,844.00) is proposed under the main overhead cost of the Ministry of Defence for the year out of which the sum of One billion five hundred and twenty million (N1,520,000,000.00) is for the Brigade of Guards. Additionally ,the sum of five hundred and fifty six million, four hundred and nine thousand eight hundred and four naira (N556,409,844.00) is for its regular overhead expenditure to arrive at the grand total of three hundred and forty billion, three hundred and fifteen million, three hundred and fifty nine thousand two hundred and fifty five naira ninety five. kobo( N340,315,359,255.95).
On Critical Capital Projects to be executed by the Ministry in the 2021 fiscal year,he said in addition to the on-going projects there are other Special projects approved by Mr President which include acquisition of Defence Equipment on government to government basis in the sum of $692,968,573.00 out of which 30% was released by the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning. According to the Defence Minister, the Ministry is mandated by the President to execute a stalled contract put at USD269,734,420.50 for the delivery of seven hundred (700) Troops Carrying Vehicles and fifty (50) buses awarded since 2014 by the Office of the National Security Adviser.
Retrospectively, the Minister in a 5 paged 2021 budget proposal had earlier summarised the 2020 budget performance as at 26th October which revealed that 88% of the Overhead was utilised while the total Expenditure for Capital utilised stands at 16% owing to what he blamed on four causative challenges. They include, the general effects of Covid-19 pandemic, paucity of funds, late releases of Capital funds and bureaucratic bottleneck associated with procurement process.
While appealing for favourable consideration of the budget proposal by the Senate Committee on Defence, General Magashi said the Ministry under his watch is committed to actualising its core mandate of providing adequate security for a peaceful, stable, secured and united Nigeria. Responding to questions raised by some members of the Committee who observed that the budget proposal for the Overhead and Capital Projects are low, the Minister said procurement which should be entirely the responsibility of the Ministry of Defence is in the purview and pursuit of the Services.
The Chairman Senate Committee on Defence Aliyu Wamako while assuring the Minister of Defence that the Ministry’s budget proposal will undergo the usual thorough examination by members of the Committee with a view to doing justice to it, he gave an ikling for possible upward review of the total estimates.
Signed Mohammad Abdulkadri,
Special Assistant to the Minister of Defence on Media and Publicity.