Procurement processes for the acquisition of arms and ammunitions for the Nigerian Army and all the security agencies operating in the country should reviewed, the Chairman of the House of Representatives’ Committee on Army, Rima Shawulu suggested
Shawulu, who spoke during the budget defence of the Nigerian Army which had the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt.Gen Tukur Buratai and other military chiefs in attendance, said a new approach to arms procurement will eliminate some of the controversies surrounding the exercise.
He said: “The controversies over the purchase of arms and ammunitions or alleged purchase f inferior or substandard arms call for an urgent review of our processes.
“Indeed our several scholar, leaders and generals have repeatedly affirmed, war is too important to be left in the hands of generals.
“The world have moved on in most democratic countries, representatives of the people, the parliament is involved in the details of implementation of budgets and procurement processes. “
Some top military officers have been arrested over a $2.1 billion arms purchase scandal over alleged involvement.
The former National Security Adviser (NSA) to former President Goodluck Jonathan, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd), is presently facing criminal and corruption charges in a court of law over the same issue.
Similarly,the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission recently arrested a serving senior officer of the Nigerian Air Force in connection with the $2.1 billion arms purchase deal.
However, the Shawulu-led committee differed on calling retired Service chiefs, who were involved in procurement for questioning.
Lt.Gen Buratai told the committee that “all the Service chiefs and those involved in the procurement are retired, so we are limited on the extent we can investigate them.”
Shawulu was of the opinion that the Green Chamber has constitutional power to investigate the arms purchases of the past administration and call anyone for interrogation.
The lawmaker also expressed concerns over the dilapidated state of the facilities in the 30 military formations and barracks which the committee visited during a recent familiarisation tour.
He said: “In all, we visited and related with officers in about 30 formations in the six geopolitical zones of Nigeria. Our discovery calls for a review in the way we do things.
“It is sobering that the officers and men who have dedicated their lives to fighting to keep us safe, live in such scandalous accommodation. It is also shocking that the decay and rot in the system has been left unchecked and our soldiers fighting without the required equipment.
Stressing the need for adequate budgetary provision for the rehabilitation of 117 barracks across the country, Shawulu, said his committee has sent a letter to Speaker Yakubu Dogara and Senate President Bukola Saraki to increase in the budgetary allocation for the Nigerian Army in the 2016 Budget.
The COAS said the Army is continuously re-strategising to meet daunting challenges, adding that partial implementation or non-release of budgetary allocations would certainly have negative impacts on campaign plans.
The budget proposal for the Army is N160.848 billion as against N149.8 billion last year’s Budget.
In the proposal, N129.654 billion is allocated for personnel cost, N13.301 billion for overhead and N21.339 billion for capital component.
Buratai noted that the N160 billion allocation was inadequate for the Army compare to the N520 billion it requested for.