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Anti-terror war: N100bn Army budget too small — NASS

Says more funds needed for equipment, weapons
Military deserves larger budget — Ikponmwen

By Kingsley Omonobi & Alemma Aliu

The Senate and House of Representatives Committees (NASS) on Nigerian Army, yesterday, expressed fears that the N100 billion allocated to Nigerian Army in the 2020 budget was inadequate for country prosecuting a war against insurgency.

The two committees of the National Assembly spoke as members visited the Chief of Army Staff, COAS, Lt. Gen Tukur Buratai, and Principal Staff Officers, following the conclusion of their visit to Army commands and formations nationwide to ascertain the readiness and capabilities of the Nigerian Army towards fulfilling its mandate to the nation.

Chairman, Senate Committee on Army, Ali Ndume, and Deputy Chairman, Senator. Abba Moro, led the Senate Committee, which included the Clerk of the committee, while Chairman, Reps Committee on Army, Abdulrazak Namdas, and his deputy, Tajudeen Adefisoye, led the House Committee, which included the Clerk.

Army
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Speaking before the NASS members went into a closed session with the Army hierarchy, Ndume said the committees were very proud of the massive development of infrastructure, discipline and organisation noticed in all the formations and commands they visited.

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He said: “I am a barracks boy. I grew up in the barracks because my father was a soldier, so I know what the Army used to be in the past and what it is now.

‘’What we have seen in Zaria, Maiduguri and other commands and from our interactions with officers and soldiers, it is very encouraging and we are proud of the Army.

“However, we observed that there are serious challenges such as accommodation and even equipment to meet up with the task placed on the soldiers of the Nigerian Army.”

On his part, Namdas said the Reps Committee was impressed with the professionalism of Nigerian soldiers, citing the visit to Operation Lafiya Dole where the Theatre Commander, Major General Adeniyi, showed them vehicles rehabilitated and constructed by the Nigerian Army.

Such vehicles included MRAVs, which are being spearheaded by the Chief of Army Staff at Command Engineering Depot. The vehicles are needed to fight insurgency.

N100bn budget for army insufficient

While noting that the entire budget for the Armed Forces of Nigeria was N100 billion, Namdas said for a military currently prosecuting a war and needed equipment and weaponry to achieve its objectives, there was need for more funding.

He said: “N100billion when we are in a war situation, is not sufficient. We have to find alternative ways of funding, apart from the general government budgetary process, because the nation relies heavily on the Army for security.”

Responding, Lt. Gen Buratai said he was happy that both houses of National Assembly hit the road on resumption of duty without waste of time, and have started making efforts to address the major challenges facing the Army.

Buratai said:  “What you have seen is a true reflection of the Nigerian Army of today, which is professional, loyal and committed. We have made efforts to expand the Nigerian Army in line with its present Order of Battle, ORBAT.

“We have ensured that we sustain all our training exercises and we have not missed any since 2015 and 2016. There was no quarter that we did not conduct our training exercises.

“You are aware of such exercises as Egwu Eke now Atilogwu Udo; Ayem Akpatuna; Crocodile Smile; and Harbin Kunama. These are training exercises that have enhanced the professional competence of troops.

“For us to continue to meet up with this responsibility and other tasks placed on us requires funding. We are, therefore, happy that you are looking at alternative sources of funding for our activities and operations.

“I want to assure you that the Nigerian Army is loyal and committed and we will always subject ourselves to the supremacy of the constitution and civil authority.’’

Military deserves more — Ikponmwen

Reacting last night, former Provost Marshal ofNigerian Army, Brigadier-General Idada Ikponmwen (retd), said considering the additional roles of being involved in internal security by the armed forces, the Army needed more budgetary allocation.

He said: “The armed forces have a lot of responsibilities on their shoulders, more so when we are in a state of war in more places than one. We have problems in the northeast, we have a serious threat from IPOB in the east, I won’t say the Niger Delta militancy is entirely over.

“So, with all these responsibilities and for a military that has taken on so much responsibility, some of which are not actually their role by the rule of the constitution and democratic environment, the Army that has become much more visible than it should be, there is no doubt that they have enormous duties.

‘’The military is also fighting battles in the law courts because of their involvement everywhere. Its responsibilities have become so much that it is bound to be spending so much money in terms of litigation, the reason being that being so visible everywhere, it is bound to incur liabilities, some of which may be challenged.

‘’The military should be funded very well because they also have this problem of taking care of its retirees because the morale of a serving soldier is to a very large extent determined by how he sees his retired colleagues being taken care of or neglected.

“The disposition in civilised countries is to put retirees in the position they were while in service, so they are not seen to have dropped in their lifestyles.

“So when you look at the military and the responsibilities they are carrying on their shoulders, I honestly think nobody will grudge giving them a much higher budget.”

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