Are we spending right? The Nigerian Defense Budget
Terrorism in Nigeria has become synonymous to the term “Boko Haram” translated to “congregation of people of tradition for proselytism and Jihad. In the last two years, the occurrences of terrorist activities in Nigeria have become more frequent, from the kidnapping of the 276 girls from Chibok, to the insurgence in Damboa town in Borno, and finally the bombings in Abuja. Not only are Boko Haram activities increasing in frequency but they are also spreading further into the southern part of the country.
As Boko Haram gets bolder and more organized, the Nigerian government has promised to take a bolder approach towards tackling this problem. To this end, the government has recently submitted a request to the house seeking their approval to borrow not more than $1 billion to launch a war against terrorism- which represents an additional 50% of the current defense budget. While many try to dissect the propaganda for Boko Haram, the tragedy that results from their activities, the aim of this article is to understand what Nigeria’s current budget on defense is being spent on, and if this borrowing is necessary.
The security budget for Nigeria has historically remained the largest share of government expenditure contributing to about 19.5% of total government budget in 2014. The largest chunk of these funds flow through the Nigerian ministry of defense. Though high, the ministry of defense budget has remained relatively stable over time, growing by ~1% in the last two years.
However, more relevant is whether this money is being spent effectively. To answer this question, I will be analyzing the 2012 Nigerian defense budget. In 2012 the total Nigerian defense budget was ~ N332 Billion Naira. According to the SIPRI military budget analysis, this put Nigeria as the 57th largest spender on military defense in the world. . 76% of this spending however went solely to the payment of salaries, wages, and contributions towards the NHIS and pensions, leaving only about 24% of the budget for both capital and overhead expenditures. For countries with high military capabilities such as the United States, we find that a much smaller percentage of their overall military expenditure is spent on personnel costs. For example, the United States spends only about 20% of its overall budget for defense on personnel costs.
The majority of funds for defense in Nigeria go to the three arms of the military i.e. the army, navy and air force, representing about 77% of the total defense budget . With only about 7.8% going to training and research institutions. Additionally we find that even within these three agencies only a small amount of funds goes to the procurement of materials needed for combat.
Specifically, only about 0.8%, 14%, and 1% of the total budget for the Army, Navy and Airforce respectively are spent on the procurement of defense equipment respectively.Additionally, in the case of the military for example, 36% of the spending on the purchase of defence equipment is spent on the purchase of military uniforms alone leaving only 64% of this budget for the purchase of ammunitions and spare parts etc. Likewise in the case of the Airforce, 67% of all the funds for purchase of defense equipment is spent on the purchase of uniforms leaving only 233 million naira for the purchase of helicopters.
It is pretty obvious that before we increase the spending that goes to the military for defense against threats such as Boko Haram, there is first the need to restructure the spending pattern of the Nigerian army, paying more emphasis on equipping our military, thus enabling them properly defend our country.