Mid-last week (May 30), the governors of Nigeria’s south-south zone came out from a joint meeting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, to demand the payment of 13 percent derivation from the federal government, on the $1 billion to be withdrawn from the Excess Crude Account (ECA) to fund national security matters. Their ground for the demand stemmed from what Seriake Dickson, chairman of the South-South Governors’ Forum and Bayelsa State governor, said, is constitutional provision of 13 percent derivation to be applied and respected.
Seriake said: “We took the collective view that, with respect to the Federal Government’s effort to withdraw $1billion for national security, our position in this zone is in line with the constitutional provision on derivation.
“While we have no objection to the Federal Government spending money on security, including security of this zone, we believe the constitutional provision on 13 percent derivation be applied and fully respected. We will communicate that to the appropriate authorities, so that whatever amount that is withdrawn from the Excess Crude Account, being proceed of crude oil sale, is subject to the 13 percent principle enshrined in the constitution.”
The South-South governors lapped on constitutional provision for their demand. But each of the states contends with strong security challenges of militancy, kidnapping, inter-cult clashes, and political killings. Like the macro-Nigerian society that has been marred by social unrests, including Boko Haram terrorism and herdsmen attacks, the oil-rich Niger Delta region states have hardly been free from social violence.
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In 2017, Nigeria ranked 149th out of 163 countries on the Global Peace Index.
According to data gleaned from Wikipedia.org on Security Vote in Nigeria, the South-South states post the biggest figures used to combat insecurity. Their total security vote is N80.4 billion annually, excluding Bayelsa State, which figures were not available. Rivers State tops them all. This 2018, Governor Nyesom Wike is spending N22 billion on security, which includes funding for his newly established Rivers Neighbourhood Watch.
If we work out the mean of the zone’s security vote figure of N80.4 billion, which gives N13.4 billion, and allocate it to Bayelsa State, it would bring total South-South security vote to N93.8 billion. This is distantly followed by the currently much-harried North Central zone, with N61.4 billion (Kwara State figures not included). The North East zone, much bombarded by Boko Haram insurgency, spends N32.875 billion as security vote; followed closely by the South West (including Lagos State with its complex megacity security challenges) posting N31.549 billion (Ekiti figures unavailable). The South East, burdened with kidnapping, spends N29.6 billion, while the North West zone, with Kano State’s figures unavailable, spends N12.211 billion, on security vote.
Proshare Nigeria, a financial, business and economic information hub, says the economic costs of Nigeria’s social insecurity are broad: agricultural production has been devastated, public infrastructure such as schools, hospitals and bridges have suffered significant damage, and the loss of life and mass displacement of people are astounding.
Meanwhile, Tukur Buratai, the Chief of Army Staff, has estimated that the economic impact of Boko Haram activities in the north east zone has cost the country N274.5 billion ($9 billion), with the loss of agricultural production put at N107 billion ($3.5 billion).
Yet, security spending in the nation’s 2018 budget is $1.58 billion, which translates to a paltry $8 per Nigerian. Whereas, evidence from other economies such as Germany, Japan and Botswana, with relatively peaceful environments, suggests that this is low for a country of Nigeria’s population. It is also low compared to the global average. Global total defence spending is expected to reach $1.76 trillion in 2018, translating to $220 per person.
Proshare suggests that, “there is a need for more robust defence spending to improve the security condition of the country, which would in turn contain the economic costs of unrest and support economic activities.”
For the South-South zone, a Port Harcourt based security expert, Codratus Nwachukwu, gave a trajectory why the zone’s security vote remains high. “The south-south is a hotbed of insecurity in Nigeria, fuelled by militancy and drugs. Oil money over the years put easy cash in the hands of those who patronize hard drugs. Later, they organized themselves into cult groups, where they ensured their members’ confidence by initiations. They further found usefulness in political thuggery, where politicians bought them guns to realize their political ambitions. All this would later snowball into militancy (kidnapping, destruction of oil installations), which forced the Federal Government in 2009, to dangle amnesty to the ex-gunmen and women. Later, the state governors were brought into the system, to deepen the amnesty programme, to continually ‘calm’ the boys.”
Nwachukwu says today these former militants, cult boys, with their drug consumers and barons have found a new lucrative business (illegal though) – oil bunkering, which gives an average oil bunkerer N50,000 daily. “So, there is no amount of money offered them in monthly-paid jobs, after skill acquisition training that can dissuade them from bunkering, with its associated crimes. As a result, the governors are continuously hard-pressed to budget and spend more on maintaining security in the South-South,” he said.
He gave Rivers’ example where Governor Wike explained the reasons for increasing his security budget to N22 billion – equipping the new Police divisions in the state, created by the Federal Government, without any facilities built on ground. Also, the governor last year, bought and donated eight assault gunboats to the Navy, aside tens of patrol vans and other security gadgets he has been providing the Police and other security agencies operating in the state.
Therefore, with general elections around the corner, the South-South states would certainly have bigger security issues on their hands. Hence, there would be strong need for more money for the governors to up their state’s security architecture.
By BEN EGUZOZIE, in Port Harcourt