Farouk Yahaya

…defends 2022 budget 

…pleads for early financial releases to purchase equipment

…N28 billion as capital expenditue for Army 2022 very inadequate to renovate 138 barracks-REPS

By Levinus Nwabughiogu-Abuja

Chief of Army Staff, COAS, Lt. Gen. Farouk Yahaya, Friday, said the four command pillars of professionalism, readiness, administration and cooperation were his strategy to ensure a discipline and professional Nigerian army that will defeat terrorists and bandits.

He also stated that central to the pillars was the welfare of the officers and men of the institution which is geared towards boosting their morale for the tasks. 

Yahaya who spoke while appearing before the House of Representatives Committee on Army to defend the 2022 budget estimates of the force therefore appealed for early releases of finance to enable them procure essential equipment and prosecute the war.

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Noting that the army was involved in internal security in the six geo-political zones of the country, the army chief also boasted they were wining the war against terrorism and banditry.

He added that the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 also made insecurity to fester. 

“This is my first time of officially defending the Nigerian Army budget before this honourable committee. The last two years have been indeed challenging due to Corona-virus, which affected the global socioeconomic activities including that of our dear nation, Nigeria. 

“The attendant negative consequences hindered our economy and seems to allow insecurity to fester as observed in the north central, north west, south east and south west. The situation compelled the National Assembly to consider supplementary budget 2021 to stem the tide. 

“The supplementary budget had been partly funded and some critical hardware have been ordered and are being expected soonest in the country. It is in this light that I want to acknowledge  the massive support of Mr President, Commander in Chief of the armed forces of the federal republic of Nigeria and this honourable committee in providing the needed resources for both operational and administrative activities of the Nigerian Army. The NA’s role as enshrined in the constitution is to protect the territorial integrity of Nigerria from violations of all sorts.

“Lately, the Nigerian Army has been involved more in internal security operations across the six geopolitical zones of the country, though with varying intensities. In this regard, a lot of success has been recorded against the Boko Haram terrorists, the bandits and the kidnappers and other criminals across the country. But a lot more still needs to be done.

“When I took over the leadership of the Nigerian Army in May, 2021, I crafted my vision which is to have a professional NA ready to accomplish mission in a joint environment in defence of Nigeria. My vision was built on four command pillars. Which are professionalism, readiness, administration an cooperation, all of which are geared towards ensuring a discipline and professional Nigerian Army. To achieve this however, welfare of personnel which include relevant training, good administrative support, provision of needed weapons and platforms among others are all essential success factors. 

“Suffice to note that adequate funding would help Nigerian Army to invest in needed technology and platforms to effectively discharge its constitutional roles. Nigerian Army, at present must, by necessity of the changing nature of the battle space, develop novel processes, strategies and tactics to overwhelm the enemy in kinetic and non kinetic battles, win hearts and minds and safeguard our nation’s territorial integrity, prestige and honour.

“This require deliberate investment in leadership capacity building, plans strategic procurement of necessary equipment infrastructure, personnel welfare, battle resilience and combat efficiency.

“As we are aware the theatre of operation has expanded beyond the north east to other geopolitical zones in the country. Therefore manpower requirements of the NA has been increasing to accommodate this attendant needs.

“To bridge the gaps being exploited by bandits and other criminal elements, this therefore calls for a review of the subsisting envelope budget system, which over the years have been a major challenge in adequately funding the army for its constitutional duties. It is my hope that this Honourable committee would passionately look into this with a view to correcting the anomaly”.

Defending the 2022 budget, Gen. Yahaya lamented the reduction in their proposed budget estimates.

He however called for early releases of their funds to enable them realize their set objectives.

“In preparing for the year 2022 budget, NA proposed a sum of N710 billion. However, the budget ceiling from the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning reduced it to a total sum of N579 billion only.

“This reduction would impede the capacity and tempo of the Nigerian Army in carrying out its constitutional duties particularly in the ongoing war against Boko Haram terrorists and other criminalities across the country.

“The detail of this is contained in the NA 2022 budget defence booklet earlier submitted to this Honourable House. Sir whatever be the case, early release of fund is essential to aid our procurement of process given the long time involved in it. 

“I therefore passionately appeal to this committee to impress it on the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning to begin the release of the year 2022 NA capital budget in the first quarter of 2022. This would help the NA to rehabilitate dilapidated accommodations in over 138 barracks and training facilities across NA units and formations as well as procure the needed equipment and platform to prosecute the war against terrorism and other criminals in the country.

“Accordingly, I pray that the NASS through this committee should call the Ministry of Finance to begin the release of the year 2022 NA capital budget in the first Q 2022.

“I pray the NASS prevail of the Ministry of Finance to exempt the Nigeria Army from the current budget ceiling or envelope allocation system.

“Let me assure you that the NA is committed to securing the territorial integrity of Nigeria from any violation as well as the clearance operations to rid our country of Boko Haram terrorists and other criminal groups are still ongoing. The timely and complete implementation of 2022 budget would therefore enhance the fulfillment of the Nigeria Army’s constitutional mandate and thus engender peace for socioeconomic development of our country”, he said.

In his remarks, the Chairman of the House Committee on Army, Hon. Abdulrazaq Namdas regretted the reduction of army’s capital projects, saying it was gross inadequate.

“We must tell you the truth that the morale of your men in respect to accommodation is low. A lot needs to be done in that area. This is because your men can only be the best if they are psychologically stable.

“It is the the wish of this committee to also draw the attention of the president to the plight of our officers living in dilapidated structures scattered across 138 barracks in the country.

“Proposing N28 billion as capital for the Army 2022 is very inadequate. Even if the entire money is to be used for the rehabilitation of the barracks alone, it would still be very inadequate.

“It is our hope that the Armed Forces Fund Bill currently awaiting concurrence at the Senate when passed and assented to by the President would help tackle some of this major challenges”, he said.

“In 2021 the capital was N29 billion, 2022, it is N28 billion. So instead of moving up, it is coming down and this budget is about capital. You use capital to buy equipment. You use capital to prosecute the war. You use capital to also renovate barracks 

“Even, if the entire N28 billion you are to use to renovate the 138 barracks in this country, it will not even take one quarter of it.

“Actually, the money is very small. There is a need for us to sit down and see how we can help the army move forward.

“Because if you give somebody a small amount, he will tell you it is because you didn’t give him enough money and if you hold him responsible, he has a way of dodging the question. Give him enough, agreed, we have done enough in the supplementary budget, but the capital component of it for the whole 2022 is N28 billion. We can’t do anything much with the money.

“Another challenge we are facing, even if you have 100 per cent money on ground, you have to place a order, army equipment is not something you buy on the shelf. Even if you budget this year, and you go and inspect certain things, you will not see them immediately because they come based on the timing that is allowed”, he said.

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