Since President Muhammadu Buhari took office on May 29, 2015, the Nigerian government has allocated over N6 trillion for defence, according to data from the nation’s budget office. In contrast, more Nigerians continue to lose their lives daily despite the humongous amount budgeted to secure them.
At least 43 people including 37 security personnel were killed last week after an attack was launched on security forces in Ajata-Aboki community in Shiroro Local Government Area of Niger State by terrorists. The Shiroro attack was launched despite repeated assurances that the Nigerian government had tackled security and was on top of its game.
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In the 2016 Appropriation Act, a total of N443bn was allocated to the defence ministry, consisting of N312.2bn for recurrent expenditure and N130.8bn for capital expenditure. In 2017, N483bn was budgeted for the ministry, including N330.4bn for recurrent expenditure and N138.6bn for capital expenditure. In 2018, N576.3bn was allocated to the ministry, comprising N418.6bn for recurrent expenditure and N157.7bn for capital expenditure. In 2020, N899.9bn was budgeted for the ministry, comprising N784bn for recurrent expenditure and N115.8bn for capital expenditure.
By 2021, N966.4bn was allocated to the ministry, including N838.5bn for recurrent expenditure and N127.8bn for capital expenditure. In the 2021 Supplementary Appropriation Act, over N700 billion was allocated to the ministry with allocations to Defence Headquarters (N35.8bn), Nigerian Army (N106.4bn), Nigerian Navy (N90.9bn), Nigerian Air Force (N426.6bn), and Defence Space Administration (N54.6bn).
In 2022, over N1 trillion was allocated for defense operations, procurement and upgrade of capabilities, and infrastructure.
On the flipside, as of the second quarter of 2021, more than 11,400 civilians and security personnel lost their lives to insecurity. Details of data sourced from Nigeria Security Tracker, a project of the Council on Foreign Relations, an American think tank, showed that the losses were recorded in attacks by Boko Haram insurgents, herdsmen and bandits.
In his reaction to the sad incident penultimate Friday, Buhari said the attack on security forces in Ajata-Aboki community in Shiroro Local Government Area was a direct assault on the Nigerian state which will not go unpunished.
He said: “And to the sadists, I say this: we are coming. No matter what rock you crawl under, what hole you sink into, what lie you hide behind, we are coming and we will find you. Shiroro will see justice. Nigeria will know peace.”
For many, the president’s threats and “tough talks” are becoming bland especially in the face of worsening insecurity.
Earlier in January, President Muhammadu Buhari had boasted that his administration had tackled to a great extent the security challenge in the country. Speaking in a Channels Television interview, he said Nigerians were better secured than he met them.
But in the same month, at least one thousand, four hundred and eight-six (1486) Nigerians were victims of the insecurity situation in the country. Within that month, killings accounted for 62% as 915 people lost their lives while the remaining 571 (38%) were victims of kidnapping.
From the North-Central region through to the North West and other parts of the country, several Nigerians had their lives cut short by terrorists, bandits, kidnappers and unknown gunmen. This past month, at least 40 people were killed in a shooting at a church in Owo where gunmen stormed a church on Sunday morning, opened fire on the congregation, and detonated explosives as the worshippers scampered for safety.
How the president hopes to maintain his claim of securing Nigerians when he leaves next year with the nation rolling in a pool of its own blood remains a puzzle.
Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, or so goes the saying. But Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers may be working overtime to change the context of that popular saying. In other words, if we consider the crisis rocking the PDP, we could as well posit that “hell hath no fury like a politician scorned.”
Since former vice president Atiku Abubakar polled 371 votes from the 767 accredited delegates to edge Nyesom Wike, who polled 237 votes in the PDP presidential primaries recently, all has not been well between the two gladiators.
The already tense relationship between both men was worsened by Atiku’s decision to jettison the choice of governors within the party by picking Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa as his running mate ahead of Wike – who was apparently the governors’ choice.
Since the moment he announced Okowa, Atiku has had to struggle to keep the major opposition party together as many of Wike’s loyalists are threatening fire and brimstone.
The first sign of apocalypse was seen in how woefully the party performed in Ekiti governorship election where it came a distant third by polling 67,457 votes behind APC’s 187,057 and SDP’s 82,211 votes; in addition to how ill-prepared it has shown itself to be ahead of the Osun elections scheduled for July 12.
Last week Friday, reports said that Wike refused to grant an audience to a former Minister of Police Affairs, Adamu Waziri, who was sent to speak with him by Atiku in Turkey where the governor is on vacation. This, in addition to the rebellion shown by loyalists of Wike – a very influential figure in the south – may have given the Waziri a sleepless night; hence his resolve to mend fences with the governor.
Wike Vs. Okowa
The choice of a running mate has been a major headache for candidates in this electoral dispensation. This accounts perhaps for why many of the leading candidates – Tinubu, Kwakwanso – have only announced the selection of placeholders; they haven’t selected or announced substantive running mates. But Atiku Abubakar was quick to announce Okowa, despite expectations in certain quarters that Wike would take the slot.
What do the numbers say about the political strength of both men?
According to figures sourced from the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC on the number of registered voters in Nigeria’s 36 states and Abuja as of 2019, there were 2,845,274 voters in Delta State.
On the other hand, Rivers State boasted of 3,215,273 registered voters.
In 2019, Wike emerged winner of the Rivers State Governorship election with a total of 886,264 votes, while Biokpomabo Awara, the governorship candidate of the African Alliance Congress (AAC) trailed behind him with 173,859 votes.
In Delta, however, Okowa polled a total number of 925,274 votes to defeat his rival, Chief Great Ogboru of the All Progressive Congress who polled a total of 215,938 votes.
In terms of state-wide influence, Wike’s Rivers PDP swept all of the three (3) senatorial seats in Rivers state to maintain its dominance while Okowa’s Delta PDP only secured two (2) seats and lost the Delta Central seat to Ovie Omo-Agege of the APC.
In terms of influence among party powerbrokers and the governors, Wike commands the respect of almost all of the southern governors and ex-governors including Makinde, Fayose, Ortom, Ikpeazu, etc. But political analysts say that Atiku was perhaps uncomfortable with a powerful and influential running-mate, hence his decision to opt for Okowa.
Last week Friday, photographs emerged of Governors Makinde and Ikpeazu meeting with Wike in Turkey. In the light of Governor Ortom’s recent outburst, it is being speculated that the governors may throw their party’s presidential candidates under the bus.
In any case, it remains to be seen how Atiku would navigate the pebbles and landmines being laid for him by his internal detractors and how much the Turkish conspiracy could jeopardise his chances in the general elections.
Tick, tock, tick…