Despite multi-billion naira complex: NSA’s office commits N32bn to new buildings

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Barely eight months after its predecessor commissioned a massive edifice, the current management of the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) has earmarked the sum of N31.915 billion in the 2024 budget for the construction of new buildings.

This is happening amidst a rising spate of killings and kidnappings across the states of the federation, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, where bandits have been abducting residents from the comfort of their homes.

Former President Muhammadu Buhari, on March 21, 2023, inaugurated the current ONSA and the National Counterterrorism Centre (NCTC), which gulped billions of naira.

Buhari, while inaugurating the two state-of-the-art facilities in Abuja, had said they were meant to optimize efforts towards addressing evolving security challenges in the country, especially terrorism and violent extremism.

He had expressed optimism that the facilities would serve as a major legacy to provide the incoming administration (President Bola Tinubu’s) with infrastructure to effectively coordinate national security and counterterrorism efforts.

The then NSA, Babagana Monguno, who also spoke during the inauguration of the facilities, had said: “The new office for the NCTC is designed to accommodate the additional workforce and improved technological capabilities of the Centre, particularly the Exclusive Devices Analysis Office (EDAO), increasing activities of countering violent extremism department and joint terrorism analysis branch.

“The new ONSA and NCTC complex boasts of office spaces, a world-class hall, conference rooms, team rooms, laboratories, an auditorium and an operations/crisis centre”, Monguno stressed.

Some civil society organisations (CSOs) and a security expert, who spoke to Daily Trust, said voting N32 billion new NSA buildings amounts to misplacement of priorities.

The CSOs said the funds should rather be used to equip and empower the security agencies, especially the police, in order to tackle the deteriorating security challenge in the country.

An analysis of the 2024 budget showed that N4.5 billion would be spent on the construction of “ONSA House”, a new project; while another N25 billion was also voted for the headquarters of the National Cybersecurity Coordination Centre (NCCC), which is also a new project.

The NSA’s office will also spend N2.415 billion to reconstruct its liaison office in Lagos.

Daily Trust reports that of the N65,002,523, 046 allocated to the ONSA in the 2024 budget, N34.9 billion is for capital expenditure; while N30 billion is for recurrent expenditure.

Out of the N30 billion, overhead cost is N18 billion while personnel cost is N12 billion.

N1.4bn earmarked for police arms

The budget also revealed the ONSA budgeted N1.4 billion for the Nigeria Police Force’s arms and ammunition, including protective gears such as bullet proof vests and helmets.

The item, with the code ERGP4103042 in the fiscal document, indicated that N443, 364,563.59 was meant for protective gear; and N1 billion was for arms and ammunition.

The ONSA also set aside N8.5 billion for subscription to professional bodies and another N2.135 billion for security charges, with N105 million to pay office rent and N182.9 million for residential rent.

Details of the ONSA’s budget also include N5.4 billion for security operations, N52.2 million for cleaning and fumigation services, N136.1 million for fueling of vehicles, N112.9 million for “other transport equipment fuel cost”, N172.9 million for fuelling of generators, N27.7 million for bank charges and N41.2 million for welfare packages.

CSOs allege misplacement of priorities

Commenting on the ONSA’s propositions in the 2024 budget, Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC)/Transparency International in Nigeria, Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, said the National Assembly and the executive did not do “needs assessment” before passing the budget.

He wondered why only N1.4 billion will be voted for arms and ammunition for the police, and a whopping sum of N31.915 billion for the ONSA’s new buildings.

“This is because police require serious funding to improve or respond to the current security threat in Nigeria; they need resources to help secure our country but this government’s budget allocation shows that there is no interest in equipping and providing quality personnel and facilities to ensure safety of Nigerians.

“Police is a constitutional institution and therefore should be given priority in our national budget. The National Assembly members have the obligation and responsibility to ensure that they do not betray their mandates given to them by Nigerians,” Rafsanjani said.

Executive Director, CLEEN Foundation, Gad Peter, also said the ONSA ought to have prioritized funding the police rather than allocating huge money for office buildings.

“There is increase in number of kidnappings and bandits’ attacks on local farmers.

We cannot be shouting about increase in kidnappings in Abuja and other cities and at the same time not equipping and empowering the police to carry out their duties.

“Police is even not about arms and ammunition, are there enough manpower? Are the police officers motivated enough?

“We should not misplace the priority in funding the police. The funding of the police is a necessity and government should give it all the necessary attention,” Peter said.

Speaking to one of our correspondents, a security sector reform expert, Garba Abdullahi, described the allocation for the NSA’s new buildings as unfortunate.

“How can a serious establishment include such in its budget! It is laughable that the items would even gulp over N30 billion and yet, the National Assembly did not thoroughly scrutinize that?”, the expert said.

He called on President Bola Tinubu to review the allocation and “channel part to other critical items.”

Daily Trust tried repeatedly to get a reaction from the Head of Strategic Communications in the Office of the National Security Adviser, Zakari Mijinyawa. However, over one week’s efforts, including repeated calls and messages were not responded to.

One of our correspondents sought to know from Mr. Mijinyawa what the ONSA’s justification was for planning to build new offices with N31.915 billion.

But the ONSA’s spokesman neither answered several phone calls nor replied to text and WhatsApp messages sent to him last week Wednesday, Thursday, Sunday, and up to yesterday.