Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai, has said that inadequacy of funds was bane of military operations in Nigeria.
Buratai made this known when he defended the 2018 budget of the Nigeria Army before the Senate Committee on Army in Abuja on Thursday.
While appraising the performance of the 2017 Appropriation Act, Buratai recalled that since the beginning of 2015, “the activities of the violent non-state actors had aggravated across the country.”
He said in response to this, the Nigerian Army had expanded from five to eight divisions.
“The army is currently engaged in war against the Boko Haram terrorists and other internal security operations in virtually all the 36 states of the federation,” he said.
He said that such commitment had extended the army’s core constitutional roles and had impacted significantly on the army’s human and material resources.
Buratai, however, said that the inadequate budgetary allocation subsisting envelope budget system and partial release of funds had negatively affected the Nigerian army toward achieving an almost secured environment for the citizenry.
He further said that in 2017 the sum of N133.44bn was proposed for personnel cost adding that this was released 100 percent.
According to Buratai, in preparation for the 2018 Budget the Ministry of Budget and National Planning proposed the total sum of N233bn.
“However, the Nigerian Army is requesting for the sum of N261.67bn”, he added.
He noted that critical projects including procurement of drones and establishment of Aerial Reconnaissance (inspection) Intelligence Centre for the army would cost N2.05bn.
Other projects included rehabilitation of barracks at N5bn and procurement of more arms and ammunitions was N4.8bn.
“We have additional three divisions which are divisions 6, 7 and 8 that have been operationalised.
“Additional operationalised activation of these 3 divisions each will have approximately N1.5bn for the activation and further equipping of the divisions,” he said.
The chief of army staff further said that the army was committed to securing the territorial integrity of Nigeria from any violation.
“The clearance operation to rid the country of the remnant of the Boko Haram terrorist and other criminal groups is currently ongoing,” Buratai said.
He noted that timely and complete implementation of the 2018 Budget would enhance the fulfilment of this mandate.
In his remarks, the Chairman of the Committee, Sen. George Akume said the army had done well within what was released to the establishment.
“If releases were made to the army, the establishment would do better for the overall development of the country,” he added.
Contributing, a member of the committee Sen. James Manager, (PDP-Delta) said insecurity in the country “was taking a threatening dimension.
Manager said without peace the country would not grow.
He advocated first line charge for the army as monies from such was released 100 percent.
“Just like some others who are in the first line charge, the money is released 100 percent at the end of the day,” Manager said.
He added that if the army was handicapped Nigerians would be in trouble because without peace we cannot grow.
Also speaking, the Vice Chairman of the Committee Sen. Ibrahim Danbaba said it was sad that funds budgeted for in the budget were not released.
Danbaba said if the 2017 budget of the army only recorded 42 percent, it was either “the planners did not do their jobs well or the money was diverted and used for other things not in the budget.”
“In a situation where we have so much challenges in terms of even the territorial integrity of this country. For the government not to be releasing funds that were made available in the budget, is sad,” Danbaba said.