Permanent Secretary, Special Duties in the Ministry of Finance Aliyu Shinkafi said this when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Army in Abuja.
This is as the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Army, Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume, described the failure of the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, to honour invitation to appear before the committee as “unacceptable”.
Ndume expressed disappointment that the minister shunned the invitation of his panel despite the importance of the issue at stake.
He said: “Honestly, we are not happy that the Minister of Finance is not here today despite the fact that she was duly invited and she knew the importance of the issue we invited her to discuss with us.
“There is nothing that is more important that she could be attending to than the serious problem of insecurity all over Nigeria at the moment.
“We were blaming the military but the soldiers are claiming that they have no equipment, arms and ammunition to work with because there was no money to buy them.
“We have invited the minister now to explain why her ministry was not funding the operations of the Army and she is not here. This is not acceptable.”
The committee, however, summoned Mrs. Ahmed, Director-General, Budget Office, Ben Akabueze and the Chief of Army Staff, Major General Ibrahim Attahiru, to appear before it next Tuesday to explain details of the funds so far released to the Army to fight insurgency, banditry and other forms of insecurity, from 2019 till date.
Meanwhile, Shinkafi told the committee that N75 billion was appropriated and released to the Army in 2019 while additional N7 billion appropriated from the Service Wide Vote was also released 100 per cent.
He added that N2.5 billion was also released to the Army in 2019, bringing the total released in 2019 to N94.5 billion. Shinkafi said in year 2020, N75 billion was appropriated but N74.99 billion was released.
He added that in the current year, N100 billion had been appropriated and the Ministry of Finance has released N19.4 billion for the first quarter.
According to him, “just yesterday, we released N19.95 billion for the second quarter. I believe that we are on course as far as releases for these operations are concerned.”
However, Ndume brought out a letter from the Chief of Defence Staff where he said the military authorities complained that they had shortfall as far as releases from the Finance Ministry was concerned.
Ndume said: “The letter from the Defence Headquarters on the funding of Operations Lafiya Dole is claiming that they have a shortfall of N50 billion in terms of releases and requested us to do a follow up on the matter.”
The Permanent Secretary, however, insisted that the amount appropriated had been released.
The committee asked the ministry officials to come with details of the releases at its next sitting.