A more proactive military in tune with the prevailing global realities is key to Nigeria’s quest for improved security, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, said in a statement on Monday.
The statement, released by his special adviser on media and publicity, Lanre Lasisi, also said the House is making efforts to augment the budget on security through legislative means.
Gbajabiamila said these in Abuja at a two-day capacity building workshop of the House Committee on Defence in collaboration with the Centre for Strategic Research and Studies of the National Defence College and the Policy and Legal Advocacy Center (PLAC).
Many have criticised the military for its popular warfare strategy of repelling insurgents rather than laying ambush or siege on them.
Gbajabiamila noted that militaries, globally, have moved beyond routine territorial protection against external attacks, “they thrive with the use of technology”.
“The traditional role of the military as we understand it is, once there’s foreign and external aggression, that is when we deploy the military.
“But then, foreign aggression and external aggression can be simultaneous. So, when we begin to talk about the military and expand the frontiers, rather than being (passive), we must consider and remember that in this day and age, this century, foreign attack can come from anywhere. We talk about cyberspace here.”
Mr Gbajabiamila mentioned insufficient funding as one of the main challenges facing security in the country, and to that he said the House is bracing up to generate an alternative funding, apart from the statutory annual allocation.
Since a deadly insurgency broke out in the north-eastern flank of Nigeria over a decade ago, allocation to security has been on the rise.
This year, the budget of the ministry of defence stands at ₦975.7 billion — the highest of any ministry — of which ₦784.6 billion budget for recurrent expenditure, ₦116.2 billion and ₦75 billion statutory funds for the North-east operation Lafiya Dole.
Also, a bill to generate a ‘support fund’ for the military has been introduced to the green chamber. The funds would, among others, be sourced from “one per cent of the total money accruing to the federation account” as well as “0.5 per cent of profit made from investment of the National Sovereign Wealth Fund (NSWF) by the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA).”
While explaining the need for this, the Speaker said “anywhere in the world, you don’t fund either your infrastructure gap, or security matters are not funded simply through the budget.”
“We are besieged on all sides: in the north, by insurgents and bandits, in the south by militants and highwaymen,” he said. “And all of us together, our economy and industry, even our democracy are threatened by the ambitions of those who will wage war on our interests through the skilful abuse of information technology and cyberspace.
“It is perhaps this last threat that promises to alter forever the nature of our existence. As legislators, we are called upon to make national security policy through the passage of legislation, through oversight of national security infrastructure and through the approval of appropriation to fund national security activities.
“We cannot effectively serve in this role unless we make the effort to understand the continually evolving nature of the threats we face and the challenges we must meet,” he noted.