Almost two years after the mismanagement of fuel subsidy generated protracted national protest, Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), yesterday lamented the failure of the federal government to explain how the N2.3 trillion fuel subsidy funds were incurred on behalf of the federation.
The governor, also, took a swipe at the federal government for its indecision to convincingly resolve a N255 million armoured car scandal, which he said, involved the Minister of Aviation, Ms. Stella Oduah.
He sought explanation to the two controversial issues at the seventh annual town hall meeting on security held at the Civic Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos with the theme: ‘Sustaining Local Responses to Rising Security Challenges.’
At the meeting organised by the Lagos State Security Trust Fund (LSSTF), Fashola demanded account of how the federal government incurred a subsidy of N2.3 trillion on behalf of the federation without providing details of how the subsidy was acquired.
According to him, “If one now looks at what happened to N2.3 trillion of fuel subsidy and how much that money would have done in the hands of the security agencies across the country, especially the Nigerian Police.”
The governor, therefore, pointed out that all the states of the federation “cannot find the money. We cannot find the fuel. This tells us how we have priced our priority in Nigeria” as a people.
By illustration, he said if N2.3 trillion “is divided by N29 billion which we used to construct the Lekki link bridge, we will have almost 80 Lekki link bridges. In what we used to buy fuel that we did not see. If we wanted to give every state two of those bridges, you will have enough and more to spend.
“In spite of all this, they resist the idea of a state police. The money from the fund was in the last one year used to provide vehicle for the Nigerian Prison Service, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Special Anti-robbery Squad (SARS) and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC),” he said.
Aside from the N2.3 trillion fuel subsidy scandal, the governor explained the airport wing of the Nigerian Police “is funded from this money raised through Lagos State Security Trust Fund. It is the same aviation ministry that manage the airport that we had this very odious car scandal of N255 million.”
Fashola said it was sad “to know the federal government that allocate three patrol vehicle for each state police commands for surveillance with 370, 000 police men unable to resolve how N255 million was used to purchase two saloon cars.”
He said the N255 million armoured vehicle scandal, in which the House of Representatives Committee on Aviation indicted the minister, “is a very great irony” when compared with what the federal government spends on the security of life and property annually.
According to the governor, the cost of an average vehicle needed to patrol the state is just N5 million. And with such fund, we will have put 51 patrol vehicles on the road, patrolling the streets of Lagos.
On the cost to protect lives and property in the state, Fashola explained that it would require over N45 billion to acquire vehicles for effective patrol and another N6.3 billion to fuel the patrol vehicles annually.
The governor added that the state government “does not have such resources either from our direct government spending on security or from the support that you the citizens give through the Security Trust Fund
“The task is enormous; our government intends to approach the task in batches by providing an initial 100 more patrol vehicles to the Rapid Response Squad (RRS), and three vehicles each to the 13 Area Commands and 106 divisional police stations, bringing the number in the first instance to 357.
Also speaking at the meeting, Executive Secretary of the Fund, Mr. Fola Arthur-Worrey, also decried the attitude of the federal government to investment in the Nigeria Police Force, stressing that N311 billion was budgeted for the police force in 2013 out of which N293 billion is for personnel cost.
According to the executive secretary, this leaves just N8 billion for overheads and N10 billion for capital expenditure. Only N400 million was set aside in the budget for the purchase of vehicles for the police force.
The projection, he said, leaves a policeman with an operational cost of N21,000 per annum.