By Christiana Ekpa
The House of Representatives yesterday passed through second reading, a Bill for an Act to Provide Special Financial Support, Training and Modern Security Equipment for the Revamping of the Nigerian Armed Forces.
Our correspondent reports that the House had last September 25 2019 , through a motion moved by the Chief Whip, Mohammed Monguno, resolved to create a special fund for the armed forces to enable them to tackle the security challenges facing the country.
According to the House, the annual budgetary allocations to the military and other national security outfits are not enough to fight insecurity.
Also the National Assembly (8th Senate) during its Security Submit in February 2018 resolved to allocate Special Funding to Armed forces for the same purpose.
The Bill Sponsored by Babajimi Benson (APC, Lagos) and six others, seeks to establish the Nigerian Armed Forces Support Fund to provide special financial support for the revamping of the Nigerian Armed Forces with the provision of regular training for armed forces personnel and the provision of security and defence equipment for effective defence of Nigeria territory and fight against insurgency and other related matters.
The objective of the Bill is to provide for efficient management and control of the support fund established under the Bill for the training and retraining of personnel of the Armed Forces, acquisition of modern and State of the Art equipment and other related facilities for the enhancement of the skills of personnel of the Nigerian Armed Forces to make them more efficient and result oriented in the handling of the fight against any form of insurgency and all external aggressions against the Nigerian State.
The provisions of the Bill and the Support Fund established under section 4 of the Bill shall apply to all personnel of Nigerian Armed Forces serving anywhere in the world for the overall improvement and efficiency in the discharge of their duties with strict adherence to laid down rules of engagement.
The operation of the Support Fund established under Section 4 of the Bill shall be subject to review after every Five (5) years by the National Assembly.
According to Bill, the Support Fund comprises:
an amount constituting one percent of the total money accruing to the Federation Account and 0.5 percent of profit made from investment of the National Sovereign Wealth Fund (NSWF) by the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA).
It shall also comprised: an amount constituting one percent of Value Added Tax (VAT) remitted to the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CFR), any take-off grant and special intervention fund as may be provided by the Federal Government, states and local governments of the Federation and an amount constituting one percent of the air ticket contract, charter and cargo sales charge to be collected by the airlines and paid over to the support fund.
The fund could also be derived from aids, grant and all assistance from international agencies, non-governmental organizations and the private sectors, money derived from investments made by the Support Fund and an amount accruing from Annual National Fundraising as may from time to time be conducted by the Board.
The Bill provided that all funds received by the fund shall not be spent until it is appropriated by the National Assembly while the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) shall be responsible for the collection of the funds and remittance to the Support Fund.
The Support Fund shall be utilized: “for the purchase of modern and State of the Art military equipment and machineries for the Nigerian Armed Forces.
“For continuous training and acquisition of knowledge and skills by the personnel of the Nigerian Armed Forces all over the world for improved proficiency in the use of modern operational equipment and machineries”, and “for such other purposes incidental or connected to the attainment of the objectives of this Bill”.
The Bill was passed after several debates in support of it. In his contribution, Mohammed Monguno Chief Whip of the House said it is not wrong going outside the annual budget to fund an important project or thinking outside the box to tackle areas of serious concerns.
Speaking in favour of the bill, Hon. Nkeiruka Onyejocha, Deputy Chief Whip urged Members to support and make it a reality because, security is everybody’s business.
On his part, Nasir Ali (APC, Kano) suggested that the lawmakers should contribute percentage of their salary to support the Armed Forces as the funding will continue throughout duration of the 9th Assembly.
Also Hon. Luke Onofiok (Akwa Ibom PDP) advised that measures should be put in place to block linkages, adding that if such measure are not put in place to check mate the activities, the money could be mismanaged.
According to him, there is need to amend the Armed forces act for effective usages of the fund.