Daily Trust (Abuja)

Nigeria: Security Retains Top Spot in 2014 National Budget

Security operations have received the lion's share of the 2014 budget, based on estimates submitted by the Federal Government yesterday. This is the third consecutive yearly budget that gives the security sector the highest allocation.

Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala submitted the N4.91 trillion appropriation bill to the two chambers of the National Assembly in Abuja. She stood in for President Goodluck Jonathan, who did not give reason for not personally making the submission.

Out of the total budgeted sum, about N1.1 trillion, representing 27 percent, is for capital expenditure, while N2.43 trillion will go for recurrent spending.The remaining amounts are for debt service, N712 billion; statutory transfers, N399.7 billion; and Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P), N268 billion. Government's expected revenue target is N3.73 trillion, while the budget deficit stands at 1.9 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), slightly up from that of the 2013 budget, which stood at 1.85 per cent.

Daily Trust obtained a breakdown of the budget, showing recurrent allocations but no details of capital votes. A total of N845 billion was provided for recurrent and service-wide votes for the security sector, which includes the Armed Forces, Police, National Security Adviser's office, and the para-military services. This amount excludes the capital votes for these agencies as those details appeared to be missing from the bill submitted by Mrs Okonjo-Iweala. If the capital vote is put at 27 per cent of the total for the security sector, then the security vote could hit about N1 trillion. This is about the same as the amounts received by the sector in two previous budgets of 2012 and 2013.

Based on the estimates submitted by the Finance Minister, recurrent allocation for Defence (including Army, Air Force and Navy), is N306 billion; police formation and commands, N286 billion; office of the National Security Adviser, N67 billion; Interior Ministry, N145 billion; and Police Affairs Ministry, N4.5 billion. Also part of the security spending are provisions under 'service-wide votes' for Nigerian Army Quick Response Group and arrears, N12 billion; and Operations-Internal for the Armed Forces, N24 billion. In the recurrent budget, education got the next highest allocation after security, with N373.4 billion. Others are Works, N28.5 billion; Petroleum Resources, N55.7 billion; Science and Technology, N24 billion; Power, N3.9 billion; and Justice N19.4 billion. Information got N22.4 billion, Foreign Affairs N46.5 billion, Agriculture N31.4 billion, Water Resources N7.7 billion, and Youth Development N75.9 billion. Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation is allocated N46.2 billion, Mines and Steel Development N10.6 billion, Lands and Housing N5.6 billion, Aviation N6 billion, and Finance N216.4 billion Other allocations include the Presidency with N25 billion, whereas the proposed National Dialogue will gulp N700 million, Stipends for 30,000 ex-militants is allocated N23.6 billion, with another N35.4 billion allocated for transformed ex-militants.

The 2014 budget was tagged "Budget for Jobs and Inclusive Growth." Speaking to journalists shortly after she presented the budget, Okonjo-Iweala said, "The budget is going to support the push in agriculture, it will kick-start the housing sector where we can create more jobs, it is designed to our policies that would support manufacturing because jobs would be created there. "Industries will also be created in solid minerals. All these support will continued to be unleashed. Job creation is the key to really solving the problems of the Nigerian economy."

The Finance Minister was accompanied to the National Assembly by her counterparts Labaran Maku (Information), Idris Umar (Transport), Sarah Ochekpe (Water Resources), Omobola Johnson (Communications), Chinedu Nebo (Power), Bashir Yuguda (State for Works) and Olajumoke Akinjide (State for FCT). Director-General of the budget office Bright Okogwu was also there. Reacting to the budget presentation, chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriation Senator Ahmed Muhammad Maccido (PDP, Sokoto), said the submission was a mere estimate as the National Assembly has the final say on the budget. Maccido said lawmakers would use the Christmas and New Year holidays to thoroughly peruse the budget ahead of their resumption on January 14.

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