DECLARATION OF ACTION AFTER A ONE DAY SOUTHWEST FOCUS GROUP DISCUSSION TOWARDS STRENGTHENING ACCOUNTABILITY IN THE NIGERIA DEFENCE SECTOR ORGANIZED BY THE CIVIL SOCIETY LEGISLATIVE ADVOCACY CENTRE (CISLAC) WITH SUPPORT FROM TRANSPARENCY INTERNATIONAL DEFENCE AND SECURITY PROGRAM HELD IN THE CONFERENCE ROOM OF TAHIR GUEST PALACE, KANO, KANO STATE ON THE 18th DAY OF JULY, 2016
Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) with support from Transparency International’s Defence and Security Program held a One Day Focus Group Discussion on citizens’ role in Strengthening Accountability in the Nigeria Defence Sector (SANDS). The Focus Group Discussion was attended by State House of Assembly Members, Government Ministries, Department and Agencies, Anti-Graft Agencies, Community influence and opinion Leaders, Council Officials, Youth Groups, Women Associations, Students and Community Based Organizations. After exhaustive deliberations on the aim of the Focus Group Discussion which is to elicit citizens participation in strengthening accountability in the defence sector. We, the participants:
Recognize that since the return of democracy, billions of unaccounted funds find their way out of the treasury in the name of security vote. Most citizens have argued that the idea of security vote has always sounded antithetical to basic democratic tenets of transparency and accountability. The funds had not in any way enhanced national security, it has become counter-productive given the ambiguity and secrecy associated with the concept.
Also Recognize that without doubt, sound financial management of a Nigeria’s security sector is key to having efficient and effective security forces that are capable of responding to the population’s legitimate security needs. Deficiencies in the way the military budget and arms purchases are decided and controlled are likely to lead to higher levels of inefficient military expenditure and inappropriate weapons purchases. Such excessive military spending and arms imports flowing from weak budgetary and procurement processes fail to provide economic or security benefits, merely consuming scarce resources needed to address basic needs of the population. Lack of transparency in particular creates high vulnerability for corruption, especially in arms procurement processes.
Express our Deep Concern that year in year out, the military has continued to battle with the menace of ghost workers personnel alongside poor audit processes. Recently, audit of the Military payroll and enrolling them on the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) has exposed 43,000 ghost workers from the payroll of the federal government with a savings of over 50billion. This has adversely affected effectiveness.
Note that that the scale and scope of corruption in the defence sector would be largely addressed if the legislature strengthens its mandate in legislation, representation and oversight. Unfortunately, the parliament at state and national level have failed as an institution since it has the history of making laws and jettison them.
Also Note Investigations have revealed that over 300 companies with over NGN116billion fraud were uncovered in the preliminary report which clearly shows that security contracting must be given proper scrutiny with beneficial ownership register properly positioned. the Nigerian armed forces certainly have the capacity to protect the country from the various security threats or siege given the necessary training and equipment to fulfill the task. Nonetheless, with the widespread corruption in the system today, contracting private military contractors comes with its own danger and should not be encouraged. In fact, it often gives room for corruption by their handlers.
Further Note that without a modicum of doubt, the defence sector needs sound financial policy and oversight structures that would ensure the protection and security of Nigeria and its populace. Going beyond the parliamentary oversight structures which current events have shown to be extremely lacking, oversight by the people is needed. Nigerians interested and capable of following the budgetary and procurement processes in the defence sector using the PPA, 2007 should be permitted to do so.
We Commit to advocate for budget credibility in the defence budget as it remains an important aspect for citizens to engage, it has also become a difficult area to investigate, particularly because of the lack of detailed data availability. Overtime in Nigeria, plans or policies approved in the paper, bear little resemblance to the actual pattern of public financial activity that took place by the end of the budget period.
We Affirm that civil society actors will continue to influence horizontal accountability in two main ways: directly, by encouraging the creation and empowerment of institutional checks and balances, and indirectly, by strengthening the institutions of vertical accountability that underpin them, such as inclusiveness in the development of defence and security policies and strengthening civil military relations. The causal arrow also points in the other direction, however. Weak institutions of horizontal accountability can also undermine vertical accountability, which in turn weakens civil society actors.
We Endorse an improvement in the existing structure of Ministry of Defence whether at the top or at the rear of the Index. This is important because sound fiscal policy and its attendant fiscal responsibility can have important long-run effects on the security of a nation through its desired impact on growth of productivity, reduction of insecurity and inequality and increased national saving.
Will ensure that awareness are raised continuously in the media as a network of organizations working to strengthen active citizenship towards amplifying the need to move beyond transparency to accountability in the Nigeria Defence budget, spending and reconciliations.
Shall Effectively engage defence budget comprehensively with orderly provision of public resources to public purposes and covering the field, budget transparency refers to the extent and ease with which citizens can access information on the budget and provide feedback to government on revenues, allocations, and expenditures. Comprehensive budgets are expected to increase accountability and transparency and enable policymakers’ and public scrutiny over the spending of public funds.
Will Support the review of the Public Procurement Act to remove the clause that provides complete exemption for military procurement. The immediate inauguration of the National Procurement Council should be given priority as a demonstration of this administration’s commitment to fight corruption.
Agreed that there is already some failure in governance, Civil Society Organizations and the media therefore must work effectively to promote community governance as a panacea for increasing awareness amongst stakeholders on the need to strengthen accountability in the defence sector. A social media platform will be launched to drive this process.
Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani)
Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC)
Comerade Jaye Gaskia
National Council for Women Society (NCWS)
Ambassador (Engr.) Mohammad Ahmad
Centre for Peace Projects and Development