By Okodili Ndidi
ABUJA – The N100 billion budget estimation for the Nigerian Armed Forces in the 2020 Budget is already raising dust among the military echelon, The Nation reports.
While the military may appear to keep straight face over the matter, it was reliably gathered that the budget estimation for the entire Armed Forces did not go down well with Generals, who had expected a budget that can fund the war against the insurgency in the North-East.
According to reliable sources, the N100 billion budget estimate came as a rude shock, “considering that the country is in a war situation which should have reflected in the budget.”
A high-ranking military officer, who did not want his name mentioned, argued: “The military is poised to win the war against insurgency and other forms of criminality in the country but such figure (N100 billion) is a far cry from what is required to prosecute the war and run the entire Armed Forces.”
The source continued: “Take for instance, allocating the highest percentage of the Budget to the Ministry of Works and Housing as against the Armed Forces is not logical because you cannot construct roads or build bridges in a war environment. We hope there will be a supplementary Budget that will address this shortfall.”
Another source who also craved anonymity, insisted that “to sustain the winning streak recorded by the military against terror groups operating in the country, adequate funding is required.
“The welfare of the troops in the front lines should be given adequate attention as well as the wounded soldiers who need medical attention. We are not asking for pay rise but the N100 billion budget estimation for the entire Armed Forces does not reflect the reality on ground”.
Meanwhile, the National Assembly Joint Committee on Army has met with the leadership of the Army to discuss possible ways of improving the figure before the Budget is finally passed by the end of the year.
The delegation led by the Chairman Senate Committee on Army, Senator Ali Ndume, met with the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant-General Tukur Buratai and other senior Army officers behind closed doors.
Although details of the meeting were not disclosed, it was gathered that how to source funds for the Armed Forces topped the discussion.
However, before the commencement of the closed session, Senator Ndume, said that visit was in continuation of the oversight functions of the Committee.
Ndume, who had condemned the N100 billion budget proposals for the Armed Forces as insufficient, stated further that following the leading role played by the Nigerian Army in war against insurgency, “the Committee embarked on a fact finding mission and NEEDS assessment across military units and formations to know what is going on.”
He continued: “After our tour, we decided to come to the center so that we can talk especially now that the budget of the Nigerian Army is out for consideration, so this not a visit that you will discuss the details to the press.”
But the Chairman House Committee on Army, Hon Abdul Razaq Namdas, in his speech, stated that the “budget for the entire Armed Forces is so insufficient and we are in a war period and there should be war budget, we will see what we can do together.”
He hinted that there is already a Motion before the House seeking for alternative funding sources for the Nigerian Armed Forces out the budgetary provision.
According to him: “It is interesting to know that on the floor of the Senate, there is already a Motion on ground stating to see how we can fund the Armed Forces even outside the normal budget because we realised that budget alone is not likely to take us there”.
The Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, in his response, stated that funding is critical to the success of the Nigerian Army.
He said: “Funding is quite critical to all our activities including national activities, so you’ve taken the bold step by the call for independent funding channels for the Armed Forces in the National Assembly, if that is achieved, be rest assured that we will do our best to provide the enabling environment for security to thrive and by implication also national development.” (The Nation)