Conflict entrepreneur, reason Nigeria won’t win Boko Haram war

By Audu Liberty Oseni

Documents from the budget office show the Nigerian military in seven years received the sum of N4.5 trillion. The funds were received from 2012 to 2019.

Despite the huge amount that has been expended on the country’s military, insecurity has continued to be predominant with the northeast part of the country being the most hit.

This is even as Nigerian state, academia, think tanks, CSOs, the media have in different circumstances interrogated this trend both empirically and subjective approach. Both approaches have results that suggest, corruption is indeed associated with security spending. This also indicates that defence spending can be interrogated for constructive governance transparency indicators.

Good management of Nigeria’s security sector finance is a key to repositioning the state security forces’ capacity to respond to the citizen’s security needs. However, lack of transparency, mainly in the arms procurement processes breeds corruption and weakens the state’s strength in response to security threats. There are indications that the Nigerian security personnel tends to be corrupt particularly in the arms procurement.

For the Nigerian state to check corruption in her security expenditures there is the need for a high level of transparency and accountability in security budgeting and procurement processes. And in doing that, the state must put in place an oversight practice that will thoroughly scrutinize defence budget and spending.

The kind of TRANSPARENCY we advocate is to ascertain whether information on the security and actual spending are readily accessible to the public, and the level of trustworthiness, detail, and all-inclusiveness they are. We also pose the question, is the budgetary decision-making participatory, open and visible. Also does the security personnel account for its spending on the parliament and the citizens.

With the escalation of Boko Haram conflicts, there exists a renewed discourse and determination by both state and non-state actors over security spending and accountability. And in that debate, transparency and accountability in the security budget and spending continue to be dominant discourse.

It is important to note, arising from the prevalent insecurity situation in Nigeria, and the increasing state allocation of funds in both regular and supplementary budgets approach to combat the varying conflicts, the Nigerian state must address conflict entrepreneur by ensuring the military authority does not see it as an opportunity to make money.

Therefore, the Nigerian state must have a well-defined defence policy. And in that policy, the state must adhere to the security needs, and must not waste resources on unnecessary things that do not genuinely meet the state security needs.

Also, the need to train the nation’s parliament on security, defence budgeting, and spending oversight is fundamental. Nigeria has a huge weak oversight of defence budget and spending. And that is because the lawmakers have no capacity to carry out such role hence such capacity training becomes most vital. It is not enough to build lawmakers capacity; the state must show the political will to carry out such oversight.

The state relies on the security privileges as a justification for defence spending secrecy, this has resulted in a lack of transparency in defence budgeting and procurement. The state in its claims, argues, national security matters must be handled with caution, and citizens interference restrained, therefore, such disclosure is inimical to state security.

As a result, it becomes problematic for the Parliament, CSOs, media and the citizens to monitor security spending. This has to be stopped, the state must realize, in democratic society accountability is fundamental in measuring governance indicators; hence there should be public disclosure of the security spending.

The Nigerian state has weak monitoring, controls, and security spending audits, and that leads to corruption in the management of security funds. The implication, therefore, gives rise to conflict entrepreneur that has sustained Boko Haram in the northeast.  

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