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“When I came into office, I observed security vote was higher than budget for education, health” – Peter Obi

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Former Anambra State Governor, Peter Obi has called on serving state governors to stop viewing security votes as slush funds to be expended for selfish purposes.

Obi made this known while reacting to comments by EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Magu that some state governors were fuelling insecurity in their states to increase their allocation for security vote.

The businessman-turned-politician said he was able to reduce his security vote allocation and judiciously utilise it while serving as the Anambra governor and urged serving governors across the country to emulate his example.

Obi said he inherited a situation where security vote allocation surpassed the allocation for health and education but he changed it.

Reacting to Magu’s comment in an interview published by Sunday Sun, Obi said:

Whoever made the comment must have observed something; so I cannot say whether it is right or wrong. He may be seeing what I am not seeing going by the job he does. I have been an advocate of ensuring that security vote is in line with the expenditure of government. When I came into office, I observed that our security vote was higher than the budget for education, health and others. We changed that. Security is important, but in terms of expenditure, I decided that education should have a higher budget because the more people are educated, the better the economy. So, we prioritised. We agreed that our security vote should not be more than five per cent of our entire budget. From 15 to 25 per cent, we brought it down to five per cent. I also decided that we would save, even though the Nigerian constitution does not allow savings. I introduced it and it turned out to be the number three reason I was impeached. I insisted that no matter what happens, we must save for the future because our resources are coming from oil, which is a diminishing asset. I decided that our savings must not be less than five per cent and that education, as well as health must be between five and 10 per cent of our budget. We gave infrastructure 10 per cent. Our budget was usually about N100 billion and the budget performance was usually between 70 and 75 per cent. Most of what we did in terms of security was from security vote. Not only that, we said anyone that had a First Class and who was from Anambra State would get one million naira and we paid over 500 people. We took that money from the security vote. The purpose of saying that security vote is money that cannot be accounted for is because it is assumed that you are a person of conscience and that the money will be used judiciously. Being a leader presupposes that people have some measure of trust in them and can be trusted. That is why they allow you some resources, which you can manage at your discretion. That discretion is what differentiates people’s character. In Anambra, we started security programme in every community and we ensured that they all had a local vigilante, which was paid for by the government. Each of the communities had a pick-up van bought by government for the purpose of security. We bought security vehicles for even universities that are not owned by the state government. We gave each university N100 million from the security vote. I visited every community and we gave them money for developmental projects and the money came from the security votes.

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John is a University of Lagos-trained journalist. His views are always the end products of a deliberate search for information and knowledge. He has read almost every novel written by Chinua Achebe, Jeffrey Archer and Dan Brown. He is an expert Scrabble and draughts player who is also excellent at swimming. If you know the capitals of 45 African countries by heart, then you are exactly like him.

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