Arms procurement funds can’t go missing under Buhari administration — Shehu

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The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, has said it is not possible that funds earmarked for the procurement of military equipment are misappropriated under the administration of President Buhari.

Shehu, who spoke last night on Channels TV’s programme, ‘Politics Today’, was reacting to the statement credited to the National Security Adviser, Major General (rtd), Babagana Monguno, that the new service chiefs did not meet the funds approved for arms purchase when they assumed office in January.

Monguno, who reportedly made the statement in an interview with BBC Hausa, has since said he was quoted out of context.

The NSA, in a statement issued by his office last night, said he did not categorically say that “funds meant for arms procurement were missing under the former Service Chiefs as reported or transcribed by some media outlets from the BBC interview”.

But reacting to the NSA’s comment on ‘Politics today’ yesterday, Shehu, made clarification on Monguno’s statement, said people are being political in order to draw a moral equivalence between an All Progressives Congress administration and that of the People’s Democratic Party.

The presidential aide noted that the two are not the same.

He said the armed forces had made a lot of purchases, but the army has been having a bit of a problem with procurement which has been “coming in bits and in pieces”.

Shehu said, “I imagine you are talking about the $1 billion taken from the excess crude account with the consent from state governors and was used for military procurements. I want to assure you that nothing of that money is missing. The reference by it in the interview of the BBC in Hausa service by the national security adviser, I think, has been misconstrued and mistranslated,”

He added, “The NSA made two critical points. One is that we don’t have enough which is a statement of fact, and two, procurements made have not been fully delivered.

“In August 2018, they allowed the Nigerian government to buy 12 super Tucano aircraft suitable for the kind of war we are fighting in the north-east. In addition to that, other arms of the military have also made procurements. The navy has done nearly 100 percent of their procurement — equipment delivered.

“The airforce has bought a number of attack helicopters — 35 helicopters from Ukraine. Some of them have been commissioned on national television. We have bought a lot of drones, but with the army, there have been problems with procurement. Equipment has been coming bits and in pieces.

“This is not ideal. In fact, our biggest procurement is coming from the UAE. As I speak to you now, it is held up in a situation only diplomacy will resolve. We were talking to them last week; the Nigerian minister of defence actually had a meeting with the ambassador of the UAE to Nigeria, and the idea is to resolve this so that the equipment held up will be released. We need them here.

“So all these procurements are ongoing; nothing you can buy on the shelf. NSA did not make accusations of misappropriation, because there is none in dealing with this matter.

“I have heard the interview on radio and I think, reasonably, I have a good understanding of it. At no point did the NSA say that money appropriated and there are no arms to be seen. They have not been delivered; yes, that is correct, but the thing is that they are things you buy on order, not off the shelf.

“The minister of finance is in the position to give you all of the details and I hope in the coming days, he should be able to render a full detail. I think people are just being political. They want to draw a moral equivalence between the PDP and APC administration. Well, they are not the same. Things like this cannot happen under the Buhari administration.”

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