The criticisms trailing the approval of $1billion for Boko Haram war and violent crimes across the country is unnecessary and unhelpful, the Minister of Information, Culture, and Tourism Lai Muhammed said yesterday.
The minister said the $1bn was meant to fight security challenges including Boko Haram, illegal oil bunkering, kidnapping and cattle rustling, as well as the acquisition of military ammunition and hardware.
Speaking at a news conference in Lagos, the minister expressed dismay that an action intended to make the country safer had been subjected to attacks by people with ulterior motives.
The minister said that it was wrong to sacrifice the issue of security on the altar of politics, saying opponents of the fund were taking politics too far.
The National Economic Council (NEC), comprising the 36 state governors, approved the fund from the Excess Crude Account, a move that generated controversy.
“I said unnecessary and uninformed because everyone knows the role the military is playing in helping to tackle the numerous security crisis facing the states, much less the war against Boko Haram.
“The fact that Boko Haram has been largely degraded does not mean the war is over. As we have said times without number, asymmetric wars like the one against Boko Haram do not end with an armistice.
Further justifying the approval, the minister said military operations in the northeast cost the country a lot of money.
He said the aircraft being used for the war, including fighter jets and helicopters, altogether consumed 64,021.08 litres of fuel per day amounting to N15 million daily to fuel the aircraft.
He said the spares for the aircraft from January to November 2017 cost a total of N20 million while consumables for the aircraft, such as engine oil, plugs etc, amounted to N3.86 million monthly.
He said between November 5 to December 17, the amount spent on ammunition was over five million dollars.
“Since we are using the air force as a reference point here, what about the cost of acquiring air force platforms? For example, the 12 Super Tuscano aircraft recently approved for sale to Nigeria by the US Government costs a whopping $490 million, yet this is government to a government contract and the costs of spares, ammunition and other consumables are not included,” he said.
The government spokesperson said: “The costs stated above are for the air force alone and restricted to operations in the northeast alone.”