In defence of the $1b ECA bailout , By Saleh Galadima

For some of us, especially those worst hit by the Boko Haram insurgency, the news of the approval of $1 billion to be withdrawn from the Excess Crude Account for the purpose of strengthening the fight against insecurity came as cheering news. But while we were yet jubilating, believing that the much desired help is on the way, some people have found it a pastime to play politics with the issue.

Until I watched Borno state Governor, Kashim Shettima come out to caution against the dangers of trivializing the gesture from the National Economic Forum NEC, on the altar of politics, I did not realize the drift an honest gesture seem to be taking. Governor Shettima whose state has remained the epicenter of the crisis and whose citizens have remained at the receiving end spoke the minds of those who feel the heat and who hail the initiative of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum in supporting the Nigerian Armed Forces completing an almost ending assignment.

What needs to be made clear is the fact that neither the Federal Government nor the affected states were to be the beneficiaries of the fund. It is stricktly meant for the Armed Forces who are in the best position to tell what are the residual needs in their quest to complete the routing out of Boko Haram and other criminal elements threatening the peace of this country. This fund will tend to reduce the pressure on the limited resources of the affected states which has been overstretched in sustain the fight. It will also give a national outlook to the responsibility of the fight against insurgency.

To him, as to every one of us, the insinuations by critics of the initiative were not only lame, but defy common practices in the management of crises. Citing countries that are devoid of any security challenges yet making huge financial commitments to national security, Shettima argued that against the background of the incapacitation of Boko Haram, the $1 billion security largesse is even more relevant at this stage than any time, given that, a nation’s Military is better strengthened at a time they are on top of the game, arguing that, mop up exercises, which include preventive maneuvers require greater intelligence gathering, re-equipping, and troops motivation, which are what the funds are meant for.

After listening to Governor Kahim Shettima who even his critics agree with his world view on crisis management, I feel that, the controversy being generated over the planned security bailout was taking politics beyond the spirit of nationalism . I asked myself, who would Nigerians rather believe, between those who advocate for the continuous amassing of resources from the Excess crude even as citizens continue to die, or those who choose to take from our vast resources, so as to save the country and her citizens? The initiative by Governors, which ought to be commended but turned into an unnecessary debate was rather distractive . While it remains a truism, from what we have been experiencing, that the resources available to the Federal Government and the affected state Governments, especially Borno state have been overstretched, the NEC bailout remains one of the most patriotic gestures from Nigerian governors.

Those who have made opposition politics a habitual fault finding misadventure may never see sense in what is being done, but, knowing that every Nigerian preferred an end to the security problems in the North East in particular, it was not surprising that those who refuse to flow with the majority have tended to become pariahs.

In authorizing for the withdrawal of the $1 billion to support the fight against insurgency and terrorism, Nigerian Governors must have reasoned that, security is expensive everywhere, yet providing it remains the most critical function of Government. They must have also concluded that, besides the determination and willpower of the Nigerian Military in the fight against Boko Haram, funding remains the catalyst for the success of the war.

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