Sunday, November 26, 2023



This article has become imperative at this critical point because of the misconception surrounding the concept of a security vote. 

In Abia state today, a lot of people misconstrue a security vote to be money mapped out for consumption by the executive arm of the government, and one that is unaccounted for. 

For clarity and the purpose of intellectual convenience, I would want to start this article with a conceptual clarification of what a security vote is and what it is not. 


The concept of "security vote" is a practice in many countries, primarily in Africa, where discretionary funds are allocated to the executive arm of government, often for security-related expenditures. The rationale behind security votes is rooted in the need for flexibility in responding to emergent security challenges within a state without the constraints of regular budgetary processes and bottlenecks. The idea is to empower the executive to be able to respond swiftly to security challenges in the state without any setback.

In theory, security votes aim to provide a rapid response mechanism for addressing unforeseen security threats, enabling the government to take immediate action to protect citizens and maintain public order. This discretionary fund is typically under the control of the executive, allowing for swift decisions and deployment of resources. To be clear, security votes fund is not just about buying arms and ammunition, but is more broad than that. 


Some people make the mistake of thinking that a security vote is money for consumption by the executive arm of the government which is unaccounted for. This is an error in reasoning. People holding this view about security vote may be people with the mindset of looting state treasury and who may have looted in the time past or people who are ignorant of what a security vote is all about. 

It is also common knowledge that the practice of security votes has been a subject of controversy and criticism as a result of the lack of transparency and accountability associated with these funds. Furthermore, the absence of detailed reporting on how security vote funds are spent makes it challenging for the public to assess the effectiveness and legitimacy of such allocations. 

This controversy, however, cannot stop governments from collecting security votes because the security of the lives and properties of citizens is at the core of every responsible government. After all, government is about the people, and without the people, the need for government is defeated. What needs to be of utmost concern to every concerned citizen is the proper utilisation of the funds, accountability, and transparency. This is because while the philosophy behind security votes revolves around the necessity for quick responses to security challenges, the practice has often been marred by issues of transparency and accountability, raising questions about its effectiveness and potential for misuse.

Efforts to reform and ensure transparency in the allocation and utilisation of security votes are crucial to align this practice with good governance principles.

Consequently, the ideal implementation of the "security vote" concept necessitates a delicate equilibrium between the imperative for flexibility in addressing emergent security challenges and the imperative for transparency, accountability, and public trust. To achieve this balance, several key considerations come into play:

1. Transparency and Accountability:

  - The cornerstone of an ideal security vote system lies in transparent practices. Public visibility into the allocation and utilisation of security funds is crucial.

   - Rigorous accountability measures, such as regular audits conducted by independent bodies, can serve as a bulwark against potential misuse and foster confidence in the system.

2. Clear Guidelines and Oversight:

   - Clearly defined criteria for the allocation of security votes are paramount. These criteria should be specific, leaving little room for ambiguity.

   - Robust oversight mechanisms, possibly through parliamentary committees or independent agencies, can act as a check on executive discretion, ensuring adherence to established guidelines.

3. Documentation and Reporting:

   - The comprehensive documentation of expenditures related to security votes is indispensable. This documentation should include detailed records of how funds are utilised, contributing to transparency and accountability.

   - Regular reporting, both internal and external, will further reinforce the commitment to openness and allow for comprehensive scrutiny.

4. Legal Framework: 

   - Establishing a sound legal framework is fundamental. Legislation should delineate the purpose, criteria, and permissible uses of security votes.

   - Legal provisions should also set limits on the amounts allocated, preventing arbitrary decisions, and providing a legal basis for holding officials accountable.

5. Public Awareness and Participation:

   - Fostering public awareness regarding the existence and purpose of security votes is pivotal. An informed public is more likely to engage in civic oversight and demand accountability.

   - Mechanisms for public participation in decision-making processes related to security vote fund allocations can be established to enhance democratic principles.

6. Capacity Building:


  - Building institutional capacity within security agencies for effective financial management and oversight is essential in achieving the desired goal of aloting security votes. Training and development initiatives ensure that those handling security funds possess the necessary skills and knowledge to effectively manage funds as they are disbursed.

   - Strengthening internal controls within security agencies can further bolster the responsible use of funds.

7. Review and Reform:

   - A dynamic system requires periodic reviews. Regular evaluations that incorporate feedback from oversight bodies, the public, and experts, pave the way for necessary reforms.

   - The ability to adapt the system of aloting security votes in response to changing circumstances and lessons learned from previous implementations is vital for its continued relevance and effectiveness.

In essence, the ideal handling of security votes demands a comprehensive approach that embraces transparency, accountability, legal frameworks, public engagement, institutional capacity building, and a commitment to continuous improvement through regular reviews and reforms. This multifaceted strategy aims to ensure that the flexibility inherent in security votes aligns with the principles of good governance and public interest.

Given the enormous security benefits that the security vote offers when properly utilised, security vote needs to increase or decrease according to the security needs of the time. 

Following from the above, a billion naira is even modest to pass for a security vote given the peculiar and perennial security challenges in the southeast, Abia State inclusive. 

If the security vote is for addressing the security challenges of a time to ensure the security of lives and properties of the people which is at the core of every responsible and responsive government, and of course it is, it becomes unwise for any government to play down on it. 

Governor Alex Chioma Otti has been very sincere in telling the good people of Abia state how much he collects as security vote, and he has been making judicious use of the funds to address security challenges in the state. And the result is there for all to see.

The previous government in Abia handed over a huge amount of security debts owed to security agencies and personnel which the current government is trying to offset while addressing the security challenges facing the state at present. Every security-conscious person knows that security is capital-intensive; yet, it is not something to be taken for granted because lives and properties are involved. Anyone arguing against a security vote is either naive about what it is and the role it plays or the person is an enemy of the masses – one who does not care about the security of their lives and properties. 

In conclusion, I would like to reiterate that a security vote is an ideal government policy and should be flexible to increase or decrease according to the security challenges of the time. Governments must guage the security of lives and properties within their territory and ensure that security votes funds are properly utilised in a transparent and responsible manner.

Written by Anokwuru C.U., Ph.D

Political Analyst

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