The Buhari administration has ended the controversial
practice of routine security vote allocation to top
government, military and security officials,
SaharaReporters has learned.
Sources in the Finance and Budget ministries also said that
the order extends to the President himself, and the Vice
In recent decades, security votes became popular among
politicians, military officers and public officers, especially
presidents and state governors, as a vehicle for siphoning
public funds. As the nation became more and more
enmeshed in official graft, however, the practice began to
generate tremendous public criticism.
Observers say it was a relic from the long years of military
rule, but became even more prevalent as from the Second
Republic, and assumed a more dramatic and wider form in
Apart from principal federal government officials, state
governors and local government chairmen often allocate
huge sums of money to their offices as ‘security’ votes, even
as the country grew increasingly insecure.
Government sources now confirm that as soon as the Buhari
administration took power last year, a clear indication was
given of the new direction when President Muhammadu
Buhari asked accounting officers in Aso Rock to keep an eye
on his own expenses and that of his deputy, noting that they
both intended to run a transparent presidency, with zero-
tolerance for corruption. Subsequently, the President directed
that there would be no routine allocation of security votes to
he or anyone else as had been the practice since 1983.
For state governors, security votes often run into billions
of Naira annually in many states. While the actual amount
that normally goes to the president was always sketchy,
there have been clear indications that it runs into several
billions of Naira, sometimes on a monthly basis.
For example, under the Goodluck Jonathan presidency,
several security vote accounts have been discovered not just
in the office of the National Security Adviser, the State
Security Service and the military, but also in accounts of the
Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation.
In one particular instance, Mr. Jonathan approved a
controversial payment of N2.4b in one day for the rent of
13 house boats for the use of the military in Niger Delta
under the Joint Task Force Operation Pulo Shield. In the
memo for the payment, the former president simply asked
the then Petroleum Minister to “release the sum from
NNPC security vote.”
The records show that the memo was approved by Mr.
Jonathan on February 16, last year. It turned out,
according to security sources, that the payment for the
rent of the house boats was more than sufficient to actually
buy several more house boats.
The money was cashed from an NNPC account in Zenith
Bank, Maitama, number 023-01571-41-13-4 and paid into
the Main Account of the Chief of Naval Staff.
Budget officials say while security chiefs and top civil
servants argued for retention of security votes in order to
take care of security contingencies, the President cancelled
routine vote allocations outright, and cut security votes in the
budget by 25%.
This means that the National Security Adviser’s office, the
Department of State Security and the Department of Military
Intelligence have had their budgets slashed by significant
sums to reflect the president’s order to cancel routine
allocation of security votes.
A source added that in a similar vein, the President and his
deputy no longer receive huge sums of money normally
released by the NSA’s office whenever they travel, as was the
practice in past governments especially the Jonathan
Sources revealed that in the past when the president or his
deputy traveled, not only did they receive routine estacodes,
the NSA would bring along loads of hard currency drawn
from the security vote, sometimes as much as $50,000 per
On learning of the practice, President Buhari is said to have
given firm instructions to stop such practices, providing only
that he and the Vice President would only receive civil
service rated estacodes and daily travel allowance when they
travel abroad, or locally.
A consequence of the new standard is that prominent
Nigerians who visit Aso Rock and depart with huge bags or
envelopes stacked with money no longer receive such
A source in the presidency said when prominent Nigerians
visit the president or his deputy these days, they only get a
very warm reception, tea, water, sweets and kolanut, but
that no money exchanges hands.
Sources said such monies given out to prominent visitors
were normally drawn from the security vote allocation.