Babagana Monguno, the national security adviser (NSA) on Friday in an interview with BBC Hausa, revealed that the $1bn released by President Muhammadu Buhari for the procurement arms under the immediate past service chiefs, got missing as neither the money nor the arms can be accounted for.
A translation of the interview in full shows that Monguno said more damning things that appeared to suggest he is not in the picture of what is going on in government, TheCable is reporting.
In one instance, he said he was not aware Buhari promised to send 6,000 soldiers to Zamfara to combat banditry “because I was not at the meeting.”
“It’s like telling a person to go and farm and you did not provide him with a hoe,” he said in another instance, suggesting the military is not well equipped to tackle the insecurity.
He has since denied making comments about missing funds for arms procurement
Here is the interview in full reproduced below
BBC: What’s the position of the government on negotiating with bandits?
Monguno: The position of government on the issue of negotiation is that if it has to do negotiation, it has to negotiate with people that are sensible. We can negotiate with people that would not betray the government and the people. These people that many have been pressuring us to negotiate with them are not people that can keep to their promises. They are not people that can be trusted. They are just people who are hell-bent on causing chaos. In fact, negotiation is not for everybody. And before you even come to negotiate with people, they must know that you have the power to enforce your authority. But it is not even an issue of negotiating with these people. They are not people who have any demands that we can sit down to discuss with. They are just out to kill people and the government cannot fold its arms and watch them to continue killing people.
BBC: Some news outlets quoted you to have said government has adopted measures of ensuring that it overcomes the insecurity in the country and part of the move was to also negotiate to bring about peace through dialogue.
Monguno: Yes, definitely, we did not say that we have closed all doors for dialogue. When those with sensible demands, focus and understanding come up, we can dialogue with them. Government did not say it has closed all its doors. The doors are still open.
BBC: But if you don’t accept dialogue, why are you not proactive in tackling these armed men?
Monguno: The president has made tremendous efforts to provide the huge funding but the arms were not precured, the arms were not enough. This is the reason why even though he brought in some new people (service chiefs), may be they will devise an alternative method, and I am not saying that those former service chiefs that retired have embezzled the money. This is not what I meant but maybe the money has gone through another means that I don’t know and nobody else knows right now.
BBC: Did you try to find out where these monies disappeared into?
Monguno: I am very sure that the president will investigate. But right now as I am speaking to you now, even the (Nigeria) governors forum have been demanding an explanation, that billions were provided here and there. So I want to assure you that the president is not the type that will joke about the mandate of the people.
BBC: This is suggesting that money meant for arms has been misappropriated?
Mungono: We cannot conclude since an investigation has not been finalised but money was nowhere to be found, the arms are not seen and the newly appointed service chiefs when they came, they said sincerely they did not see those arms on ground. Maybe some will be on their way from England, from America and everywhere but right now, I do not see anything on ground and they have also not seen anything on ground.
BBC: The governor of Zamfara said that President Muhammadu Buhari has directed that 6,000 soldiers should be deployed to the state. What additional information do you have on this?
Monguno: Well, I am not aware of what they discussed with the president. I was not there when he said it, but maybe it could be so but I don’t know.
BBC: President Buhari has given marching orders to the new service chiefs to bring an end to insecurity within a specific period. What preparations have you made because people are thinking you could not tackle the insecurity over the past years.
Mungono: President Buhari has given the directive and I am very sure he will not just come out and say that they should end this thing within a period. I want to assure you that he has made some preparations for it. He has some things he wanted to do on this and maybe the minister of defence has more to say but I know that the president will not speak just like that. There must be some things that he saw and he will do something to help them. He will not bring them just like that. It’s like telling a person to go and farm and you did not provide him with a hoe. He must give them what is needed to execute the war and what will aid intelligence-gathering.