By Joseph Erunke
ABUJA–THE Chief of Army Staff,Lt. General Tukur Buratai, yesterday,said poor funding of the Nigerian Army was hindering effective maintenance of its infrastructure in the country.
This was even as he applauded his administration’s efforts not only in the construction but also renovation of barracks besides other performance-enhancing innovations in the last three years.
The army chief spoke when he received members of the Senate and House of Representatives’ Joint Committee on Army, who were at the Army Headquarters on an oversight function.
While acknowledging the onstitutional mandate of the National Assembly in oversighting the army’s activities, Buratai hinted that the army under his watch had not in anyway misused the funds appropriated to it in the 2018 budget, promising that he would continue to judiciously utilise what came to the service.
“But, permit me to say that, by and large, the efforts we have done within the past three years; we have achieved a lot. As you go round, you will see the efforts, with great difference in terms of facility development…
“But, there is still much to be done. The funding still remains a challenge. It couldn’t have been a challenge, if the various infrastructure had been maintained over the years.
“But still, what were the problems that generated, what are the conditions today, is still as a result of inadequacy of funding. By and large, we have made significant differences, and we pray that this funding pattern should continue,”he said.
He reiterated absolute loyalty of the army to the Constitution and constitutional authorities, insisted that the Nigerian Army under him would derail in its mandate of protecting the nation’s territorial integrity, as well as defending her against external aggression.
Hear him:”We know the constitutional mandate of the National Assembly, and we see it as a way of maintaining the checks and balances in the general administration of the Army, and by implication, the country as a whole.
“We see it as one very important responsibility, to ensure that our constitutional mandate is properly attended to, and we will also execute that mandate in line with the constitutional provisions.
“We know that the Nigerian Army has that constitutional responsibility, to defend the country against external aggression, to equally protect our sovereignty, and also to support the civil authority, when called upon to do that.
“We have been performing these constitutional duties with all the commitment, zeal as well as with absolute loyalty to the Constitution, and constituted authority.
We assure you that all the funds that have been appropriated, have been judiciously utilised.”
Speaking earlier,the Chairman, Senate Committee on Army, Senator George Akume,commended the efforts of the army at restoring law and order across the country.
He assured that the joint visit was not an “Inquisition”, but an exercise to ensure that appropriated funds were properly used.
“We are here in line with our constitutional mandate…to, among other things, supervise activities of the Army.
“Finally, and most importantly, to supervise annual budgets of the Nigerian Army, to ensure that there is accountability in the applications of these funds.
“These committees will, therefore, be grateful if the Nigerian Army under your leadership (COAS) furnishes us with details of all the projects and their locations, to enable us oversight them, with respect to funding as well as appropriated under the 2017/2018 budget.
“This is not an Inquisition, and this is not the first time the committees will be doing this work.
“We want to commend the Army for your presence in maintaining peace and order, particularly in the North East. We know your men are eveeywhere.restoring law and order, ensuring that peace prevails in the country.
“We want to commend the Nigerian Army for keeping to its constitutional responsibility of protecting the territorial integrity of our country,”he said.