President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered the military authorities and the other relevant security agencies to carry out a thorough investigation into how monies appropriated in the country’s budgets by the immediate-past administration as security vote were spent.
At the same time, he ordered that the State House management and other government agencies should stop drawing money from security vote for emergency funding.
Buhari gave the directive following a report before him that security votes had been the main channel in which funds were diverted for other unofficial purposes other than government projects.
A dependable source at the Presidency said the failure to implement previous budgets on human development was because the allocation to security took a huge chunk of the budget proposals of former president Goodluck Jonathan’s administration.
He said while the highest votes had been going to security, an area touted as the most challenging for the immediate-past administration, the new service chiefs were shocked by what they met on ground in terms of armed forces funding.
“Some of them have not only met an empty treasury but after several attempts to reconcile documents containing expenditures of the security votes, they were surprised that they didn’t correspond with what the funds were meant to be spent for,” the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told our correspondent.
For instance, the source said, security got N922 billion in the 2012 budget, but the breakdown of how the money was spent did not suggest that half of the security vote was spent on military projects.
“One of the findings of the investigative team probing how weapons were procured under the past administration is that the security vote was not disbursed in a way that would improve the standard of the military. Monies meant for military operation were diverted for emergency funding,” the source said.
Meanwhile, President Buhari has ordered that the State House management and other government agencies stop drawing money from security vote for emergency funding.
Malam Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, who gave the hint, said the President warned that he would not condone a situation whereby emergency funding will be required from time to time.
The presidential spokesman said in an interview, “We were here in the media section of the Presidency before the coming of this administration. We heard of accounts of so many things around government, including a part of the State House relying on drawings from the security vote.
“From day one, the President informed Femi and I that media work under him must be funded through the regular budget, and that it is illegal to draw from the security vote.”
Noting that it is a wise decision taken by the President, he said: “By the time the ongoing investigation into the security department is completed, Nigerians will be shocked by the scale of waste and, possibly, misappropriation that has taken place in that single (security) sector.
“So, you can see that there are a lot of wastages that he has found in this place and he has been cutting it down. Whatever is sent to the State House management, and whatever you need, go and look at the appropriation properly.
“We are not going to have a situation where emergency funding will be required from time to time. Everything must be duly approved and follow due process. He is a very austere President; he lives it, he preaches it and he promotes it.”
Buhari didn’t order closure of Aso Villa Chapel – Presidency
The leadership of the Aso Villa Chapel on Sunday refuted the claim from certain quarters that President Muhammadu Buhari had ordered that the chapel be closed down.
The rumour had gone viral on the social media that the President had closed the chapel which is close to his official residence.
But responding to questions from State House correspondents after the church service, the acting Chaplain of the chapel, Pastor Joseph Sheyi Malomo, described the rumour as the handiwork of mischief-makers.
The Presidency also shared photos from the church service to back up its claim that the chapel was not closed down.
Acknowledging that there were some procedural issues last Sunday that needed to be sorted out, Malomo stated that the Presidency at no time ordered the closure of the chapel.
He appealed to Nigerians to ignore the rumour and focus rather on issues that will unite the country.
Insurgency: Boko Haram is being degraded by Buhari govt – Presidency
The Boko Haram insurgents have been degraded and are now in splinter groups, attacking soft targets due to the sustained efforts of the Nigerian troops under the new government of President Muhammadu Buhari, the Presidency has said.
Malam Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, speaking with select journalists in Abuja, said that against the accusation that the Buhari-led government had not ended the insurgency as quickly as promised during the electioneering campaigns, the once dreaded Sambisa Forest and the insurgents are currently being degraded.
“There is so much going on and I can assure you that the spirit is very high. The Army Chief was there with the soldiers for about nine days. That is leadership because you see him leading the soldiers from the front. If the chief himself is there, who are you to drop your gun? A lot is happening and Boko Haram is being degraded; they have lost central command and are now in splinters.
“What you have now is bits and pieces carrying out distractive actions because they don’t want to go down alone. So, they are looking for very soft targets such as churches, mosques, markets. The Air Force is clearing this place for the ground troops to move in. They are looking for bomb-making structures and moving convoys of these insurgents. But they are being careful about certain locations so as not to harm the Chibok girls if they are in those locations,” he said.
On the non-rescue of the Chibok schoolgirls since assumption of office of President Buhari, Shehu said government and security forces were working round-the-clock to ensure that the girls are rescued from their abductors, adding that the President did not make any specific promise of timeframe for the action.
“To be fair to President Buhari, did he ever say he will bring back the girls on the second day of his administration? What he has always said is that we don’t even know where the girls are and that we need to go in there and get the intelligence and situation of things and then act. Without meaning to endanger what is left of those girls, you know that the Sambisa Forest is being degraded right now.
“In the last few days, you even saw the Chief of Army Staff leading the troops and I am aware that, in the last few weeks, very interesting pictures have been shown to the President on the basis of which we will say to Nigerians, ‘don’t lose hope on the Chibok girls.’ I am not saying they have been found or that they have been seen but it is not yet time for Nigerians to say we have lost them,” Shehu added.
The presidential spokesman noted that Sambisa Forest is now under 24-hour observation in order to detect movement of persons from one point to the other, adding that if there is any suspicious movement, there are drones and unmanned aircraft that fly around the forest day and night.
On the three-month ultimatum given to the military to end Boko Haram insurgency in the country and their performance so far, Shehu said: “From my conversation with these commanders, what they are saying to themselves is that they are not going to wait for three months, but do their best to beat the target given by the President.”
…Buhari in Daura, expresses hope of good harvest season
President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed happiness that with the abundant rainfall the country is witnessing, a good harvest season is expected this year.
Presidential spokesman, Mallam Garba Shehu noted in a statement that Buhari equally expressed delight over the decision of the Emir and the people of his native town of Daura to honour him with a reception.
On the harvest, Shehu quoted the President as saying that, with this positive development, the specter of agrarian distress was fast disappearing; giving rise to hope that hunger will not rear its ugly head this year.
Buhari noted that this will represent a sharp turnaround in the fortunes in rural communities.
The statement reads: “The President, who is a farmer, had been to his farm in Daura at 7am on Saturday. He said that he felt reassured about this when he saw good crop performance lining the roads all the way to his farm.
“He congratulated the emir and the subjects on the prospect of good harvest this year.”
The Emir, Alhaji Umar Faruk said the entire people were proud of the President and his achievements in office so far. He pledged their total commitment to his success in office, Shehu added.