- President Buhari says the ongoing security emergencies in the nation necessitated his withdrawal of $462m from the Excess Crude Account
- He states that he expects federal lawmakers to back the purchase of the aircraft which is critical to national security
- Some senators are angry they were not consulted over the $1 billion approved by President Buhari for the procurement of security equipment
President Muhammadu Buhari has said he ordered the withdrawal of $462m from the Excess Crude Account (ECA) for the procurement of 12 Super Tucano aircraft from the United States without the approval of the National Assembly because he believed the lawmakers would have no objection to his action.
Premium Times reports that in a letter read in the Senate chamber on Wednesday, April 25, the president said the ongoing security emergencies in the nation necessitated his action.
The letter read in part: “I wish to draw the attention of the Senate to the ongoing security emergencies in the nation. These challenges were discussed with the state governors and subsequently at the meeting ot the National Economic Council on the 14th of December 2017 where a resolution was passed with the council approving that up to $1 billion may be released and utilised from the Excess Crude Account to address the situation.
“Subsequent upon this approval, we are preparing a comprehensive schedule of all the requirements for each of the security services for presentation to the National Assembly for consideration.
“It would be recalled that, for a number of years, Nigeria had been in discussions with the United States Government for the purchase of Super Tucano Aircraft under a direct Government-to-Government arrangement. Recently, approval was finally granted by the United States Government, but with a deadline within which part payment must be made otherwise, the contract would lapse."
Buhari said he expected the lawmakers to back the purchase of this aircraft which he said was critical to national security and therefore went on with the approval.
He said: “In the expectation that the National Assembly would have no objection to the purchase of this highly specialised aircraft, which is critical to national security, I granted anticipatory approval for the release of US$496,374,470.00. This was paid directly to the treasury of the United States Government.
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“I am therefore writing, seeking approval of this House for the sum of US$496,374,470.00 (equivalent to N151, 394, 421, 335. 00) to be included in the 2018 Appropriation Bill, which the National Assembly is currently finalising. The balance of the requirements for critical operational equipment is still being collated from the different security services and will be presented in the form of a Supplementary Appropriation Bill, in due course.
“The Honourable Minister of Defence and other appropriate officers will be available to provide further details, as may be required.”
“While thanking the Senate for the usual cooperation, please be assured Mr. Speaker, the assurance of my highest regards.”
Meanwhile, Senate president Bukola Saraki has said some senators are not happy that President Muhammadu Buhari did not consult with the leadership of the National Assembly before approving the release of $1 billion for the purchase of arms to fight insecurity in the country.
Speaking in Jos, Plateau state, during the Senate Press Corps Retreat on Saturday, April 7, Saraki said it was wrong for the executive to take the step without broaching the matter with the National Assembly, Vanguard reports.
Minister of defence, Mansur Dan Ali, had, last week, said, Buhari gave approval for the purchase of equipment for the military worth $1 billion
Warning that the executive could not do it alone, the Senate president noted that it was imperative that the legislative arm must be strengthened at all levels of government for Nigeria to truly achieve democracy.
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