- President Buhari acted in the nation’s interest when he withdrew $496 million to purchase fighter aircraft without NASS approval, the National Economic Council has said
- The Council recalled that Nigeria had been trying to purchase the equipment since 2014, and said Buhari had to act quickly because there was a deadline
- According to NEC, the president did what he did, to protect Nigerians
The National Economic Council (NEC) on Thursday, April 26, defended President Muhammadu Buhari’s decision to purchase fighter aircraft from the United States without National Assembly approval, NAN reports.
The National Economic Council at its 83rd meeting in 2017 had approved one billion dollars to be sourced from the country’s excess crude account for the fight against insurgency and other violent criminal activities across the country.
NAIJ.com notes that the minister of defence, retired Brig Gen Mansur Dan-Ali, on April 4 revealed that President Buhari had granted assent for the release of the one billion dollars fund for the procurement of security equipment to fight insecurity in the country.
Dan-Ali disclosed this when he spoke to State House correspondents after a security meeting involving President Buhari, heads of security agencies and Service Chiefs which was held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The Senate on Thursday accused President Buhari of spending $496 million (out of the approved $1 billion) on acquiring aircraft without the National Assembly’s approval, and hence called for his impeachment
Senator Matthew Uroghide had moved the motion, claiming that President Buhari’s action was a violation of the constitution and thus, he should face the consequences.
However, Governor Abubakar Badaru of Jigawa, who spoke to State House correspondents after the monthly NEC meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, said the president’s decision to order for the payment of the aircraft was in the national interest.
He said: “We forget easily. If you recall we have been battling with approval from America to buy these equipment since 2014. We have been begging Americans to sell this equipment to us. We tried Dubai, they could not allow us because it is patented. There is another factory in Brazil; the federal government tried, we couldn’t get.
“Then luckily President Donald Trump said `it’s okay to buy’. So, we had to quickly pay the money for the equipment before they change their minds because there was also deadline, and this is state-to-state transaction.
“We are all here concerned about security and then raising questions on how and manner in which you protect people – this is an emergency situation. So, this thing has to be understood clearly, and look at the situation from the fuller perspective not a narrow perspective.
“The president did what he has to do to protect his people and this is what happened and you know something might just happen and then the Americans will say (no stop the sale) but we have paid already, they have to supply."
Meanwhile, NAIJ.com previously reported that senators at the upper chamber were engaged in protests on Thursday, following the recent purchase of the 12 Super Tucano aircraft from the United States of America by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Raising a point of order, the senator representing Edo South, Mathew Uroghide declared the president's action illegal.
He said the letter from the president which was read by the Senate president was a violation of some of the provisions of the constitution. The senator also said he was taken aback on the payment made for the Tucano aircraft.
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