By Stehen Ubanna
Not many people were surprised when Hajia Zainab Ahmed, minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, declared that’ ‘Nigeria is technically at war’’. President Muhammadu, an army General had inherited the security challenges from former President Goodluck Jonathan Administration in May 29, 2015, during his first term in office with a promise to restore the country to normalcy in six months government but that was how far he could go.
Tackling the security challenges facing the country by the Administration had dragged on to his second term in office, as other violent groups had emerged to further deepen the crisis in the country which may have unsettled the government for serious business over the last six years.
Hajia Ahmed, may have alluded to the ongoing Counter Insurgency war, in the north eastern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe, to flush out the Islamic Fundamentalist Groups, BokoHaram, and its splinter group, the Islamic State of West African Province, ISWAP, a which came into existence in 2015.
The government military operations may have been polarised with the coming into being of the Bandits who had based their operations in the north western states of Zamfara, Kaduna and Katsina, Buhari home state. including Niger, home state of former military President, Ibrahim Babangida, a retired army General.
More worrisome was the extension of the alleged technical war to the south east states of Imo, Anambra, Abia, Enugu and Eboyi, to contain the activities of the Nnamdi Kadu, led separatist group, Independent People of Biafra, IPOB. The south west and the north central states are also feeling the impact of the war, as troops are stationed in the two regions region to flush out the Sunday Adeyemo, popular, Igboho, led group for the actualization of the Youruba nation.
The recent Launching of the army training exercise, in the Coal City of Enugu, Capital of the south eastern state of Enugu, by Farouk Yahaya, a Lt General and Chief of Army Staff which was said to have been witnessed by all the military Commanders and other top security Chiefs in the region . an indication that the army are acting out a script from the Nigerian Commander In-Chief of the Armed Forces, to silence all the opposition forces across the country ahead of the 2023, general elections.
The army Chief, may have shocked Nigerians when he disclosed that the training exercise would also be Launched in the south west, south-south and north central geopolical regions, thus giving an insight to the many wars being fought by the Buhari Administration at a go over the last six years.
The minister had revealed during the 2022, budget, breakdown presentation on Friday, October 8, 2021, to the National Assembly that in prosecuting the technical war with the various groups in different parts of the country, ‘’it has necessitated massive expenditures on security equipment and operations’’.
Take for instance the $496 million, which Godwin Emefiele, the governor of Central Bankof Nigeria, CBN, had said was used to procure 12 Super Tucarno fighter aircrafts from the North American country of the United States, US.
The huge expenditure to procure the military hardwares over the last six years of the Buhari Administration, according the Finance minister had’ ‘resulted budget deficits’’, forcing the government to resort to external borrowings . There are indications that the fresh loans that would be sourced by the government this year, less than two years to end of Buhari’ssecond term in office, would push Nigeria’s deb profile to N35.5 trillion.
Notwithstanding the increasing debt profile of the country since the Katsina state born retired army General came into office in May 2015 and now, she noted that ‘‘it has helped the government to fully deploy all necessary capital expenditure and also invest in human capital development’’.
She had told the Lawmakers who were all very attentive during the ministerial presentation of the budget breakdown, that due to the high levels of insecurity in the country, ‘‘the government would not stop borrowing in order to finance the budgetdeficit. For the 2022 budget, the security sector , the minister had said allocated 15% or N2.41 trillion of the yearly budget alone, Education, 7.9% orN1.299 trillion while the Health sector, 5% or N N820.2 billion.
The Nigerian President may have kept to his words that he would allocate an increasing share of the country’s yearly budget to Education. He had made the promise in Daura, his home town, in Katsina state, last July, when students of Premier Pacesetters Schoo, paid him a visit.
Garba Shehu, a Senior Special Assistant to the President m on Media and Publicity, who had issued a Statement on the students’ visit, had confirmed that the Nigerian President gave assurances that more emphasis will be given to the improvement of Education by his Administration.
The Buhari Media Aide had said that he had made it categorically clear to the students and their proprietress, that the his government will allocate an increasing share of resources to improve learning in the country in the Administration’s effort ‘’to transform the nation’s educational sector’’,which had been in a sorry state over the years, due the frequent Academic Staff Union OF Universities, ASUU, strikes .
The nation’s Health sector, which was in a state of total Collapse, may have also being made to enjoy increased Budgetary allocation, to forestall future strikes by Medical personnel. The recent strike embarked upon by the National Association of Resident Doctors, NARD, across the country that was said to have almost crippled the country’s health sector due to unfulfilled demands for two months was very revealing. Note that the NARD, members had dropped their stethoscope in government owned Hospitals, a to protest the alleged non- payment of arrears of Salaries and allowances to some of their members.They were said to have sought the immediate release of their residency training fund and the placement of their members in the appropriate salary structure. Osagie Ehanire, the minister of Health, may have been handicapped to meet their demands due to the paucity of funds.
Perhaps , this may have informed why Buhari, this time around had allocated N1.299 trillion or 7.9% and N820 million, of the 2022, Fiscal Budget of N16.39 trillion, to the Education and Health sectors, respectively in line with the advice of the United Nations, UN, Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation and the World Medical Organisation respectively.
Many believe that with the improved funding of the nation’s Educational and the Health sectors, there would be a total transformation of the two sectors, in keeping with what obtains in other parts of the world, particular, the developed economies.