By Ikechukwu Okaforadi
The Nigerian Navy has expressed fear that if the outstanding N4.5 billion capital appropriation for the service in 2013 is not released, the contractual agreement it entered for the supply of Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs) would be breached.
The Chief of Naval Staff, Usman Oyibe Jibrin, who disclosed this yesterday when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Navy to defend the 2014 budget of the service, also said that any spending by the Nigerian Navy should be seen as investment which is capable of addressing the dwindling resources in the country.
He said if the budget to the service is improved reasonably, it will help to empower the Nigerian Navy to have presence around the Nigeria’s territorial waters, adding that through this, they would be able to take care of the oil theft, pipeline vandalism, which he said, has been affecting the Nigeria economy negatively.
“It is the interest of the nation to equip the Navy to patrol the seas of the country. In the 2014, we will need ships, helicopters; we also have to spend on barracks rehabilitation. Expenditure of the Nigerian Navy should be seen as investment that would help the economy”, he said.
At this point, the Chief of Naval Staff advocated for the establishment of Naval Trust Fund, saying that funds realised through this approach would go a long way towards meeting the needs of the Nigerian Navy and develop the service.
“This is one way that Nigerian Navy could be developed, it is the way to develop the Navy as it is done in other oil producing countries”, according to him.
Meanwhile, in the presentation which he made to the Senate committee, the Naval boss said in 2014, N171.4 billion was proposed by the service for Capital budget, but due to constraint, it was reduced to N7.9 billion, representing 4% of its proposal.
He said out of the N7.9 billion, N5.2 billion would be spent on Offshore Patrol Vessels, even as he said that the initial N23.1 billion proposed for overhead, was reduced to N5.1 billion due to the envelop system being operated currently.
He said the N5.1 billion, which represents 30% is not enough to take care of the needs of the service, even as he said this would cause constraint in 2014 programmes of the service.
He added that in 2014, the Navy would spend N56.1 billion on personnel cost, even as he emphasised the need to establish naval base at Oguta Lake, saying the presence of navy there is highly needed.