The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has advised President Muhammadu Buhari not to allow the mismanagement of anti-insurgency funds like the previous administration.
It could be recalled that state governors had approved the withdrawal of $1 billion from the Excess Crude Account for the fight against Boko Haram.
In a statement on Sunday by its Deputy Director, Timothy Adewale, the group asked Buhari to explain to Nigerians what the funds are meant for exactly.
SERAP said the looting of funds for anti-terrorism war during the last administration was still unresolved and fresh in the minds of Nigerians.
The statement read in part, “Nigerians should have some sense of what it is the government is doing in our name, especially against the background of the declaration by the authorities that the anti-insurgency war has ended and the Boko Haram terror group defeated, as well as the unresolved questions on how over $2bn was spent by former Jonathan administration to fight Boko Haram. The government also ought to tell Nigerians whether and how the legal requirements for approving the extra-budgetary allocations were met.
“As a government presumably pursuing a change-agenda, Buhari should do things differently from the Jonathan administration including by proactively engaging the Nigerian people in an honest conversation about the fight against Boko Haram and the use of the public funds so far invested to prosecute it.
“The Nigerian people do not have sufficient information at hand to evaluate, much less influence, the government’s policies, strategies and funding to end Boko Haram insurgency.
“Nigerians need to know the level of success that has been recorded against Boko Haram, and the security situation in the North-East, as well as the amount of public funds that have been invested to combat terrorism.
“The success of Nigerian constitutional democracy ultimately depends upon an informed citizenry. The government should, therefore, emphasise transparency over secrecy on the spending on Boko Haram.
“Buhari should keep Nigerians up-to-date about what he’s doing to end Boko Haram, including by explaining why $1bn is needed at this time to fight the insurgency.
“Transparency in the spending on Boko Haram would also have an indirect effect on other branches in the sense of setting an example and changing the background tone of government. Such disclosure helps to ensure government’s adherence to the rule of law and promote confidence in the lawfulness of governmental action.
“Since the start of the Boko Haram insurgency, Nigeria defence and security budgets have increased significantly yet there has been no resolution of the conflict, and troops in the front line have reportedly complained of lack of military equipment and resources to fight Boko Haram insurgents and restore full security.”