The chairman Senate Committee on Army, Ali Ndume, has said that the Nigeria Army has no option than to end the Boko Haram insurgency because the government has provided them with enough funds this year.
Mr Ndume, a Borno State Senator, said the military has obtained approval for “all requests they placed before the federal government” in terms of weapons and ammunition needed to end insurgency and banditry in Nigeria.
“The Nigerian Army now has what they need,” Mr Ndume said.
The senator’s comment is coming about a week after the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, told the media that “the army will disgrace Boko Haram” this year.
It is not clear if the army chief, who many opinions around the country feel has overstayed his tenure in service, was speaking about the support Mr Ndume was inferring.
Last year the army staff, Mr Buratai, a Lieutenant General, said “There is the likelihood of terrorism persisting in Nigeria for another 20 years” unless there is “appropriate responses by all stakeholders both civil and military authorities…”.
Speaking in an interview with PREMIUM TIMES, Mr Ndume said the federal government has given all the expected “appropriate responses”.
“In this fiscal year, the army had requested that the funds given to them, especially the capital should be released to them so that they can get the necessary arms and ammunition. And all that they asked for has been approved,” he said.
“So, they now have all their money. As a matter of fact, in a bid to avoid any shut down this January, the National Assembly said the capital funding of the army should run concurrently with the budget that was signed, up to the end of March. The gesture is to enable Nigeria to procure the necessary arms and ammunition.
The Borno senator, who has been vocal about the federal troop’s incapacity to win the Boko Haram war, said the National Assembly had taken strategic steps in ensuring that the pocket of the army does not dry off funds again.
“But we should know that the procurement orders for arms are not off-the-shelf; it is not something that takes bureaucracy, and with the Corona pandemic things are slowed down.
“However, we thank God; and I can assure you that arms and ammunition is coming in for the Nigeria army, and the other armed forces.
“All that they needed to get the soldiers on ground motivated has also been provided in this budget.
“The personnel and recurrent budgets of the armed forces, in this year’s budget, is over N500 billion.
“Last year, the budget was N75 billion for Operation Lafiya Dole alone. But this year, due to the complaint they made about lack of adequate funds, we budget N100 billion just for Operation Lafiya Dole alone, and it was approved and signed by Mr President.”
The Senate Committee Chairman of the Army said the National Assembly had directed the army to recruit more troops that could match Boko haram and bandits across the country.
“To increase troops, the National Assembly had emphasized to the military that instead of the normal recruitment of 6000 soldiers or thereabout, they should now recruit 8000,” he said.
“As I am talking to you now, the recruits are undergoing training in Zaria and Folgore. This is the first time that two pieces of training are being conducted concurrently in a different location. And this is because we want to beef up the number. Besides that, the Nigeria Army, the Navy and the Air Force are also churning out their special forces that were sent for specialised training in various countries.
“The special troops have returned and we have seen here recently in Borno how one of the officers is doing as a special force along the northern Borno axis.”
Mr Ndume said Nigerians must acknowledge the challenges faced by troops in the frontline.
“We must understand that both Boko Haram and the Nigerian army face similar terrain advantages and challenges,” he noted.
“It is the dry season now, just as the army finds it easy to navigate the terrain, so does the Boko Haram take advantage of the dry season to move or sneak around for attacks on soft spots where it could easily attract attention.
Nigerians will hail PMB again
Mr Ndume, who has traduced the President Buhari government for not doing enough to tackle security, said he has a renewed confidence that the widely criticised president would soon be hailed by Nigeria for restoring security in the country.
“Nigerians are resilient and appreciative people,” he said.
“Of course, it has been terrible in 2020, but we are not in a hopeless situation. The challenges we have are not insurmountable. And we cannot write off Mr President’s effort.
“It is an achievement for a leader to admit the shortcomings of his government because others were living in denial.
“At the risk of not politicizing the issue of security, the fact remains that PDP was out of power because they failed. And when we came on board, Nigerians were naturally expecting us to distinguish ourselves, we could not score credit grade, but at least we got a Pass.
“One good thing is that Nigerians are good at appreciating things; once we address the insecurity issues, Nigerians will still chant ‘Sai Baba’ again.”
Need to Commend Troops
Mr Ndume said Nigerians still need to appreciate the army for the sacrifices they have made so far.
“We must commend the efforts of the Nigeria Army given the fact they are doing their best even in the face of all challenges,” he said.
“It is a fact that the troops are facing serious challenges – ordinarily no one would want his or her child to join the Nigeria Army as soldiers because of what the ground troops suffer.
“It is no longer enticing to be a soldier. People are disenchanted because we have all witnessed the suffering they go through due to lack of adequate motivation and tools; the best one could take is going into the army as officers where someone is there protecting you with an AK47.
“But despite these noticeable challenges and suffering, we have our soldiers still patriotically standing their ground in remote locations where no civilians stay.
“For example, army troops have been in Ngoshe, a community within my constituency for over three years even though the place is not safe for the civilians. The governor had just moved people to that place after the troops had made the place safe enough. Nigeria army has been standing in defence of the country on that axis. But for all these three years,
“The soldiers are trying, but we all know it is not over until it is completely dealt with. But I believe that with more commitment from the government; especially with the hope given to us by Mr President in his New Year broadcast, things will drastically improve and reasonable security would be restored by the middle of 2021, Insha Allah.
“I am not saying crimes, like insurgency and banditry, would be eliminated, but it would be reduced to the barest minimum.
“I assure you that given the support given to the army, insecurity will not overwhelm Nigerians this year, as it did in 2020. And already, the news we are getting from the Northwest states like Kaduna and how the Nigeria air force in collaboration with the army is confronting the bandits in the northeast, I believe the business of banditry would soon be over in the northwest.
“The good news again is that the Nigeria Air Force is now taking delivery of attack helicopters that are versatile and can effectively manoeuvre. With that high-profile equipment, I believe that 2021 as promised by the President himself, will be a better year. I heard the speech of Mr President and it was a very honest speech. It was one of the best speeches ever delivered by Mr President. This is a leader admitting his shortcomings.”
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