Chairman of the Senate Committee on Defence, Senator Ahmad Lawan, has assured that the Defence Space Administration will be given adequate funding in the 2024 budget to enable the administration discharge its mandate optimally.
Lawan made this known, on Thursday, when the Defence Space Administration appeared before the Senate Committee on Defence to defend its budget estimates for the 2024 fiscal year.
He added that improved funding for the DSA became imperative in view of the evolving security challenges confronting the nation.
Lawan, in his welcome address said, “This is an opportunity for the Defence Space Administration to interact with the Committee on Defence to largely explain what happened in the 2023 Appropriation, how far you have been able to implement the projects as it relates to Defence Space Administration.
“It is also an opportunity for you to disclose if you have benefitted from the supplementary appropriation 2022 in which special attention was given to the Defence sector.
“Let me assure you on behalf of my colleagues, that this committee is going to work with your administration to ensure that you discharge your mandate successfully.
“We believe you’re doing a good work already, but you probably need more resources and attention to ensure that you discharge your mandate optimally.
“We know the resources have not been sufficient, but we want to ensure that there is going to be reasonable and significant improvement to what you were getting before 2024.”
“The idea of securing the country is never cheap and it is much more expensive when the country is already in a dire situation with so many security challenges all over”, Lawan added.
The Chief of Defence Space Administration, Air Vice Marshal Ahmed Abdullahi Shinkafi, in his presentation, disclosed that the sum of N6,284,786,717.00 was appropriated to the DSA in 2023.
He added that out of the amount, N1,922,736,282.00 was for personnel emolument; N298,632,998.00 for overhead cost; and N4,063,417,437.00 for capital projects.
Shinkafi explained that the amount appropriated to the DSA in 2023 for the execution of capital projects was used for the development of the National Defence Space School, development of DSA town in Abuja, development of National Defence Space Communication Satellite Centre, and upgrade of software for Cyber Space Operations in DSA headquarters, amongst others.
Giving a breakdown of the budget estimate for 2024, the Chief of Defence Space Administration stated that a total of N10,756,136,620.83 was proposed for the next fiscal year.
He disclosed that out of the amount, N6,928,957,268.00 was for recurrent expenditure; and N3,827,179,352.00 was proposed for capital expenditure.
Shinkafi, however, observed that the proposed amount budgeted for the capital expenditure needs of the administration was grossly inadequate.
“It is pertinent to state that some products and services such as satellite imagery, personnel/assets
tracking as well as Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (SR) Imaginary were already procured by DSA and have been used to support the ongoing Counter Insurgency Operations across the country.
“These products and services have contributed immensely to some of the successes being recorded in these internal security operations.
“It is noteworthy to observe that these acquisitions translate to huge maintenance cost. Hence, the need to upscale the capital allocation for effective usage of these critical national strategic assets can not be underestimated. This would ultimately make them effective for geospatial data capturing and analysis towards enhancement of national Security”, Shinkafi explained.
In a related development, the Director General of the Defence Research and Development Bureau, Major General Emmanuel Ndagi, while also appearing before the Defence Committee to defend the Bureau’s 2024 budget estimates, lamented that “the fixing of a budget ceiling has not been favourable to the Bureau in its annual budgetary allocation.”
He therefore commended the Committee for making deliberate efforts to ameliorate the situation through the window of interventions.