The Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai has commissioned the newly established Nigerian Army Vehicles Manufacturing Company for the production of light and heavy infantry vehicles in Kaduna State.
Speaking at the commissioning ceremony at Rigachikun community in Igabi local government area of the state, General Buratai attributed ineffectiveness of some armoured fighting vehicles and other imported light skin vehicles from overseas as responsible for some of the setbacks suffered by the Nigerian military in the ongoing counter-insurgency operations in the Northeast, hence the need to develop and assemble such military hardware locally.
Below is a statement by the army as published via social media, also below is a video of armoured vehicles being tested.
“In order to rid the North East of insurgency and sustain the tempo of operations in the region, the recently established Nigerian Army Vehicle Manufacturing Company has refurbished some Armored Fighting Vehicles (AFVs) to support Op LAFIYA DOLE.
“Some of the newly refurbished AFVs of both wheeled and tracked variants, are fully fitted with advanced communications equipment, gun mounds and sophisticated weapon systems.
“These AFVs would serve as force multipliers and overall game changers in the theatre of operations. Watch the clips below.
Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG) has called on President Goodluck Jonathan to urgently set up a judicial panel of inquiry that will investigate the cost of governance since 2009 when late President Umar Yar’Adua took ill.
The group, in a statement signed by its National Chairman, Olawale Oshun, argued that the ongoing investigation into procurement of armoured vehicles by the aviation ministry ought to be extended to other ministries, departments, and agencies of government, including the presidency and legislature.
“We are convinced that the revelations coming out of our aviation ministry represent only a tip of the iceberg, a fraction of the widespread disregard for probity and budget-based administration in our public service,” Oshun said in the statement.
The group described the media frenzy about the #Stellagate controversy as “undue focus” and stated that such would only serve to “cover up similar abuses in other Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies, and also the legislative house in Abuja. Our suspicion is that many other ministers and top government officials are beneficiaries of similar unusual gifts.”
“Just recently, the House Committee Chairman on Public Accounts cried out that budgetary performance of capital expenditure stands currently at 28 per cent; that of recurrent expenditure stands at 72 per cent; while that of the N1.6tn Service Wide Vote, a nebulously defined allocation spent at the President’s discretion, stands at 90 per cent.
“We must not, as a country, fail to extend the ongoing investigation into other MDAs, going by the recent revelation that 2013 budget performance is less than 40 percent and the disclosure of Comptroller-General of Nigerian Customs Service, Abdullahi Dikko Inde, before the Joint Senate Committee on Finance and Appropriation that Nigeria has lost N603.2bn to waivers and exemptions between January and September alone. Waivers were even granted for importation of petroleum products to the tune of N263.8bn.
“We suspect that profligacy of the worst degree since 1999 is staring us in the face and it serves no nationalistic purpose to devote national resources in the presidency and legislature to probe a mere fraction of the problem. What the country needs now is a holistic probe, the type that can engender a comprehensive reform in cost of governance.”
Oshun said a judicial inquiry is necessary to “enable the introduction of proper reforms that would prevent Oduahgate in future.”
“To mindlessly concentrate on the Oduah issue without externalising the inquiry would only short change the country and our search for probity. We urge Nigerians not to wait for another shocking revelation of corruption but to demand for holistic reform of governance,” the statement read.
The National Assembly Chairman House Committee on Media and Publicity, Zakari Mohamed has countered claims by the NCAA that the alleged purchase of armoured vehicles for the Aviation minister was approved by the House of Reps.
While speaking from the Channels TV Abuja studio as a guest on Sunrise Daily, Mr Mohamed who is also a member of the aviation committee, stated categorically:
“I want to say clearly for the records, I am a member of the aviation committee and I partook in the budget defence of 2013 and I remember that there was a defence (during which) NCAA in its budget this thing was brought.
They said ‘purchase of security and armoured vehicles’, it was a lengthy debate and we rejected it, we turned it down and said gentlemen we will not as a body approve this and of course you need to take it back”.
Speaking further he said “they took it back and came back with ‘used utility vehicles’. When they brought utility vehicles we said yes that is not enough, itemise the utility vehicles. Hiluxes, Corrollas were stated there for the use of the NCAA in their operations”.
And we said ok, we will now be guided by this since we have the items and we have the monies being attached on it, we will approve and we approved. So if somebody comes to begin to tell Nigerians that we approved, then I think we need to make things very clear that what we approved were operational vehicles which were stated in black and white – the number, the prices”.
He further shed light on how the appropriation act works; stating that if the parliament approves the purchase of any item and it is appropriated in the budget, then at the time of purchase the buyer decides to use the money approved to purchase other items not originally stated, such persons or organisations have flouted the appropriation act.
He claimed that if such purchases would have to be done, “you will have to come back to the parliament … but in this case what we approved was ‘operational vehicles’ and there was no occasion, (I can remember vividly) when they brought back their budget to the house and instead of utility vehicles changed it to armoured or security vehicles. We didn’t veer, and the only statutory body that is empowered to veer monies; move it from one subhead to the other is the |National Assembly”
When asked to verify other processes involved in such purchases which the NCAA claimed to have passed through, he promised that series of meetings have been scheduled to immediately look into the claim. He stated that the committee will invite a cross section of people who should have the details including the due process office as he would prefer to be guided by facts.
He urged Nigerians to be patient as a committee is already in place to work on this and their findings and recommendations will be out within 1 week.
He added that flouting the appropriation act carries a minimum jail term of 2 years.