The multi-billion dollars arms purchase scandal currently rocking the office of the former National Security Adviser, ONSA, Sambo Dasuki, has been described by President Muhammadu Buhari as an “abuse of trust” at various levels.
The former NSA alongside others are in custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, for their various roles in the spending of $2.2 billion budgeted for arms purchase.
President Buhari expressed dismay that the necessary equipment and other logistics, which the money was meant for, were not supplied, thereby scuttling the fight against Boko Haram.
Speaking when he hosted members of the House of Representatives to a dinner at the Old Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa in Abuja yesterday, Buhari lamented that under the former administration, the military could not secure 14 of the 774 local governments in the country.
“Unfortunately for us as a people, we discovered that billions of naira and hundreds of millions of dollars were expended by the previous government to acquire good equipment and ammunition for the military to use. But unfortunately, there was abuse of trust at various levels which cost Nigeria a lot of lives and goodwill. So, because of this, we cannot keep quiet about and it is coming out gradually. It is very unfortunate”, the president said.
Buhari, a former military head of state and retired major general of the Nigerian Army, recalled the heroic exploits of the army in Burma, Zaire, Liberia and Sierra Leone among other countries, but wondered how that same army could not replicate its achievements abroad in securing 14 LGAs.
“As I have always said, how has the mighty fallen! We are doing our best, and I hope our best will be good enough”, he added.
Buhari said he decided to host the dinner to thank the lawmakers for their cooperation so far, noting however that much still remained to be done.
“There is a lot of Rubicon to be crossed, but let’s be very clear about our objective: Our objective is that we first secure the country and efficiently manage it because we’re all in government. In fact, we’re the government-the legislature, the executive and the judiciary. So, nobody should contemplate alienating one another. We’ve already set our priorities right during our campaigns to secure the country then efficiently manage it. Securing the country is obviously dealing decisively with Boko Haram.
“When we came in, the military leadership had to be removed and reconstituted, a new set put in with clear target to re-organise, retrain, re-equip and make sure that Boko Haram is uprooted and neutralised. We ensured we’ve some good intention with the Joint Task Force comprising the Lake Chad Basin Commission countries of Cameroon, Chad, Niger, Nigeria and Benin, because of good neighbourliness, decided to join us. There was an agreement to dedicate a number of troops to be sited in different places in the Lake Chad Basin Commission so that with the end of the rainy season, an aggressive attack will be unleashed on Boko Haram. But we’re realistic to know that Nigeria is the battle ground. So, we expended the meagre resources we’ve to ensure that the morale of the military is raised by getting officers to be on the ground with the men”, he added.
While seeking the support and understanding of the lawmakers, the president reminded them of the political tsunami that swept away about 70 per cent of their colleagues as they were not re-elected. This, he noted, called for a sober reflection.
“Let’s make up our minds that whatever we’re doing, we’re doing it for this country. Let’s secure the country first. Let’s us efficiently manage the country”.
Speaker Yakubu Dogara in his remarks, described the four years of Buhari’s administration as crucial, saying; “If we don’t get it right under you, then, those of us in this generation should forget about getting it right”.
He pledged the support of the House to the Buhari administration.
The dinner was attended by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, former Interim National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Chief Bisi Akande, Chief of Staff to the President, Alhaji Abba Kyari and Secretary to the Government of the Federation Babachir Lawal, among others.