There is no ceasefire in the ongoing media war between the National Security Adviser (NSA), Major-General Babagana Monguno (rtd), and the immediate past military chiefs with new reports alleging that the former could not buy arms worth $2.51 billion from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in 2017 because he was stopped by President Buhari.
According to reports, Buhari botched the plan after his late Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, told him that the would-be suppliers are commission agents, whilst also faulting the contract Monguno signed with the International Golden Group (IGG), the Abu Dhabi-based arms supplier on March 27, 2017.
In a letter dated April 5, 2017, according to a report by TheCable, Monguno had sought Buhari’s approval to pay $627 million “within eight days” to IGG as the 25 percent deposit for the supply of arms, ammunition, and equipment to Nigerian armed forces.
Monguno also requested that the payment be made from the excess crude account (ECA), which the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) top management opposed, complaining to the president that the payment would deplete the nation’s external reserves and make it difficult to defend the local currency, a development which TheWill said it independently verified to be accurate.
Mallam Abba Kyari, the President former late Chief of Staff had also blocked the purchase citing Mr. Buhari’s earlier directive that no third parties or agents be involved in arms purchase, maintaining that it must be a country-to-country transaction. Kyari’s staunch opposition to the deal is believed to have severely damaged relations between the two top officials.
Buhari took ill thereafter and went on medical leave to London, with Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo stepping in as acting president.
Osinbajo set up an armed forces and police emergency procurement committee (APEPC) with the need to support military operations in the north-east, Lafiya Dole, topping the agenda.
Monguno used the opportunity to re-present the $2.51 billion memo he had earlier sent to Buhari, raising his request to $2.6 billion to include the new approval for Lafiya Dole.
He said Buhari had already approved the sum but payment was not made because of his sickness and subsequent medical leave, the report said. Again, he met a brick-wall as Osinbajo insisted that no third parties should be involved in the arms purchase.
With the $2.51 billion IGG proposal dead in the water, according to the report, Monguno felt undermined by Kyari in the scheme of things but kept his cool.
On May 27, 2019, Mohammed Adamu, the inspector-general of police, made a request to the NSA for the purchase of equipment, including arms and trucks, to boost the force’s operations. He put the total cost at N32 billion.
In his submission, Monguno again brought in IGG, the Abu Dhabi-based group, as suppliers and raised the request to N46 billion — a mark-up of about N14 billion, according to the report.
Kyari, again, raised objections against the involvement of IGG — which was to supply even Hilux trucks, according to the proposal sent by Monguno.
Kyari argued that it was better for Nigeria to buy the trucks directly from the manufacturers or enter an agreement with local plants such as Innosons.
Based on another memo from Kyari in which he raised objections to third-party involvement as well as the significant increase in the cost, Buhari directed that the purchase should be handled by the ministry of police affairs.
Meanwhile, President Buhari had restated his directive that third parties or commission agents should not be involved in the purchase of arms.
The President also directed that arms, ammunition and all equipment for the armed forces should, thenceforth, be handled by the ministry of defence.
All purchases, the president instructed, must be done on a direct country-to-country basis with no middlemen and commission agents involved in order to save costs.
The disapproval by the president enraged Monguno, leading him to write a series of instigating letters to various government officials to protest Kyari’s “meddlesomeness”, the report said.
He also raised the alarm over “threat to national security” and accused Kyari of issuing instructions to service chiefs, even suggesting that it was because of this “meddlesomeness” that Boko Haram was renewing attacks.
Ciurtesy – TheWill