2013 Budget Review: NASS Must Act Now!

By Abdullahi M. Seidu

One topic that has generated so much discourse in the Nigerian public space for a long time is the 2013 budget. Right from the primordial planning stages, it has raised so much dust that even the average Nigerian who would ordinarily maintain an indifferent posture has eventually become an active participant. The several disagreements between the Presidency and the National Assembly further heightened the already heated debate on this all-important document which charts the course of the Nigerian economy and ultimately affects the quality of life available to the over 170 million people living within its national borders.
Though many controversies are still surrounding the budget, the allocation to security is a welcome development as a result of the security challenges that we are all facing as a nation especially the north.
The sensitiveness of the decision makers in making adequate provisions for security is particularly encouraging. The breakdown of the 2013 budget shows that security takes the lion share, as the Federal Government has allocated the single largest budgetary provision of over N950 billion to security, out of the total aggregate expenditure of N4.987 trillion in the 2013 fiscal year. With N320 billion for the Police, N364 billion for the Armed Forces, N115 billion for the Office of the NSA, and N154 billion for the Ministry of the Interior, the budget reflects the government’s commitment to tackle the security problem in the nation. Over the years, a lot has been said about the poor state of security and the ill-equipped security agencies; but not very much has been done in practical terms to address the situation.
As more money pours into security, we need not spend all that on guns, boots, uniforms and ammunition – although they are important as well. We need to use it to build the capacity of our security forces, so much more that their mental horizons on the modern techniques of security are broadened.
Strategic intelligence gathering is very essential in nipping in the bud any terrorist act.
You are probably wondering what the excitement about the increase in allocation to security is all about. Well, I will only be stating the obvious by saying that any nation which jokes with security does so at its own peril. No nation develops in the midst of insecurity and restiveness.
Even in the midst of the economic turmoil in the United States, there is a strong tussle between the conservative and the progressive on much budgetary allocation to security. The conservative are still having their way. No doubt, any iota of development is rolled back by restiveness and insecurity.
This is especially true for us in Nigeria at such a time as this when issues of security have escalated beyond normal ramifications to become a prime concern. We can only make progress when there is peace; and without security, we cannot even begin to talk about economic development.
The state of emergency declared in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe has really underscored the need to shore up the security budget.
The economy flourishes in a peaceful and secure nation. Having seen the veracity of this assertion play out over and over again in pockets of restive areas across the nation, wisdom teaches us to deploy all necessary resources to address the situation proactively in order to forestall disaster on a national scale; and that is just what the 2013 budget has done. Once again, the Economic Management Team, coordinated by Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has got it right on this.

Abdullahi M. Seidu is a public affairs enthusiast.

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