Budget Office of the Federation has revealed that the Ministry of Defence, Defence Headquarters, the Army, Navy and Air Force got over N238bn in 2018 and 2019 to fight insecurity and implement their programmes and operations.
According to reports on the website of the Budget Office, which are the 2018 and 2019 Budget Implementation Reports, the defence ministry, the DHQ and the three arms of the military budgeted over N316bn for its operations and programmes in the two years.
But the Federal Government released about N238bn, which represents about 75 per cent of the appropriation.
However, within the same period, the Boko Haram insurgency, banditry and violence in the country worsened as no fewer than 71 soldiers were killed by terrorists and bandits between January and July, 2020, according to official armed forces’ releases.
But military sources say that the casualty figure of soldiers already killed could be in hundreds.
This situation, military sources had been responsible for soldiers embarking on mass resignation, with the latest being on July 3 when no fewer than 356 soldiers in the North-East and other theatres disengaged from service, citing “loss of interest” as their reason.
The soldiers wrote to the Chief of the Army Staff, Lt Gen Tukur Buratai, on July 3, 2020, under Reference NA/COAS/001, quoting the Harmonised Terms and Conditions of Service soldiers/rating/airmen (Revised) 2017.
The approval of the voluntary disengagement of the 356 soldiers was contained in a 17-page circular from Buratai, AHQ DOAA/G1/300/92, signed by Brig Gen T.E Gagariga for the army chief.
The 2018 Budget Implementation Report stated that the Federal Government appropriated N157bn for capital projects and operations to the military and released N132bn.
But the 2019 report stated the government allocated a total of N159bn for the military’s capital projects and programmes; it later released N106.84bn.
These allocations are in addition to the $1bn approved by the Federal Government from the Excess Crude Account to fight the Boko Haram insurgency in the North-East in December 2017.
The approval had been given at the 83rd National Economic Council at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, after a meeting that was also attended by the Nigerian Governors Forum.
It is not clear yet how and when the military got the monies, although part of the money was reportedly used to pay for the Super Tucano aircraft still being expected from the United States of America.
According to the 2018 Budget Implementation Report, “The mandate of the defence ministry is to provide administrative and support services, timely and effectively to enable the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to maintain the territorial integrity of the country.
“In order to prepare the Nigeria Armed Forces for combat on Land, Sea and Air, the government allocated a total of N157.72bn in the 2018 Budget to implement its capital projects and programmes.
“Out of this amount, N132.77 bn was released and cash-backed while N126.17bn was utilised as at the end of the fourth quarter of the year. For the navy, the sum of N27.45bn was allocated in the 2018 budget to implement its capital projects and programmes. Out of this amount, N23.78bn was released, cash-backed and utilised as at the end of the fiscal year.
“The Nigeria Air Force is charged with the responsibility of providing air defence to the nation and ensuring the integrity of the airspace by gaining and maintaining control of the nation’s airspace. To achieve this objective, a total of N44.65bn was allocated to this arm of the military to implement its capital projects and programmes. Out of this amount, N27.83bn was released, cash backed and utilised in the 2018 fiscal year.”
The report did not highlight the Nigerian Army.
Meanwhile, the 2019 Budget Implementation Report reads, “Under the 2019 budget, the defence sector was allocated a total of N159.13bn in the 2019 budget for the implementation of its capital projects and programmes.
“Out of this amount, N106.84bn was released and cash-backed, while N103.11bn was utilised as at December 31, 2019. The following agencies and projects were monitored; one of them is the Defence Corporation of Nigeria which is operated by the Nigerian Armed forces. The DICON is responsible for the production of defence equipment and civilian products such as artillery, explosives, munitions, small arms, Armoured vehicles, etc.
“To achieve this mandate, a total of N3.23bn was allocated in the 2019 appropriation to implement its capital projects and programmes. Out of this amount, N1.29bn was released, cash-backed and utilised.”
Recall that Chairman, Senate Committee on Army, Ali Ndume, said a few days ago that the military needed more funding and equipment to combat the raging insecurity in the country.
..rising insurgency, banditry claim more lives
The Boko Haram terrorists and roaming bandits have intensified their fatal attacks since January 2020, killing many innocent persons, with the military appearing helpless to curtail the attacks.
Many soldiers have equally been killed by the bandits and terrorists, while some soldiers have reportedly resigned from service, citing loss of interest. These attacks have fuelled the calls for the President to sack the service chiefs so as to inject fresh ideas into the war against insecurity.
On Wednesday, Boko Haram and Islamic State West African Province fighters executed five abducted humanitarian workers in Borno State.
The terrorists had in June abducted the workers, who were said to be working with international aid organisations.
The fighters made a video of the killings, which drew condemnation from the United Nations Mission in Nigeria with the UN Humanitarian Coordinator, Edward Kallon, calling for an end to such brutal actions.