December 25, 2021

House of Representatives lags in its Oversight function as the disregard for summon on security sector continues.

Promise: Oversight of Security Sector Budget: Ensure effective oversight of security sector budget so as to restore integrity, reduce leakages and promote accountability.

Abiola Durodola
Last Updated
December 25, 2021
min read

Nigeria’s security architecture has continued to witness a downward spiral over the past years. Experts and public officials have also underscored the need to overhaul the country’s security architecture as Africa’s most populous nation continue to fight invading insurgents and sprawling attacks in different region of the country.

In its legislative agenda document, the House of Representatives promised to ensure effective oversight of security sector budget so as to restore integrity, reduce leakages and promote accountability. In Nigeria, security tops the agenda of government officials; In the revised legislative agenda document, the Gbajabiamila-led assembly set this particular promise as an immediate term action and set May 2021 as the deadline for this promise.

Since 2015, security and defence have taken a large chunk of the country’s budget with increase funding from the subsequent years. In 2018, 1.3 trillion naira was allocated for security while 1.4 trillion and 1.8 trillion naira was allocated in the 2019 and 2020 budget respectively. There was also an increased funding in the 2021 budget, with the entire security sector getting 1.98 trillion naira, a 14% increase from the previous year. This was a major leap in the actualization of the house of representative promise on security.

However, worsening insecurity in the country has raised questions on the how the security and defence funds in the country are spent. In 2020, Nigeria became the second African country with the highest military spending only after South Africa. Despite this, Nigeria is still ranked among the worst nation prone to terrorism in the Global Terrorism Index.

Weak oversights, mismanagement and diversion of funds budgeted for security remain a stumbling block in strengthening the security workforce and positioning it for effective performance.

Despite the allocated amounts, Nigerian soldiers are still maimed in the battlefront. In March 2021, military men who were engaged in the fight against insurgency protest poor equipment and unpaid salary. Weak oversight and lack of political will on the path of the executives and lawmakers has also affected the actualization of this particular promise.

In December 2020, President Buhari refused a summon by the house of representatives on security challenges in the country on ‘constitutional grounds’. In March 2021, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor, IGP of Nigerian Police Force, National Security Adviser, and other agencies in the security sector of country were summoned by the house of representatives on arm purchase, recovered loots, assets and other finances. However, the CBN Governor, IGP others failed to appear before the house.

This is not the first time the house of representatives power will be undermined by MDAs. In May 2021, the Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, EFCC Chairman, AbdulRasheed Bawa and others shun the summon by the committee investigating the status of recovered loots and assets between 2002 and 2020 failed to show up.

A report by Guardian Newspaper also revealed that lack of funds, training and equipment still limit the performance of the Nigerian police.

In the 2021 budget, 966-billion-naira ($2.3 billion) was allocated to the Ministry of Defense, 35-billion-naira ($85 million) was allocated to the defence headquarters, 510-billion-naira ($1.24 billion) was allocated to the Nigerian Army, 136 billion ($331 million) naira was allocated to the Nigerian Navy, 140 billion naira ($340 million) was allocated to the Nigerian Airforce while 32 billion naira ($78 million) was allocated to the Defence Intelligence Agency.

Our Ruling

The constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria section 88 and 89 empowers the House of Representatives as an arm of the National Assembly to summon anyone and direct investigation on some matters. However, it has continued to hit the wall on its efforts to address the effective oversight of security sector budget as executives and agency heads continue to disregard many of the house invitations. Therefore, we rate this promise broken.