The Senate Committee on Nigerian Army is considering putting the army on first line charge, as the army on Thursday complained of poor budgetary releases and asked for more money than has been proposed for it in the 2018 Budget under consideration at the National Assembly.
Members of the committee said this after the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, decried the poor budgetary releases as well as inadequate resources during the army’s budget defense before the lawmakers.
If this consideration is approved, the Nigerian Army will get their budgetary allocations directly from the consolidated revenue without having to pass through the Ministries of Defence and Budget and National Planning.
Mr. Buratai had appealed to the National Assembly to ask the Finance Ministry to stop deducting from the Nigerian Army’s overhead allocation for settlement of power bills.
“The National Assembly should persuade the Ministry of Budget and National Planning to exempt the Nigerian Army from the existing envelop allocation system. This is in view of the ongoing structural changes, volatile security environment and massive engagement of troops in virtually all the 36 states of the federation,” he said.
Reacting to Mr. Buratai’s plea, James Manager (PDP, Delta North), suggested the army be placed on first line charge as he explained that insecurity in the country is taking a threatening dimension, adding that without peace, the country would not grow.
“Just like some others who are in the first line charge, the money is released 100 percent at the end of the day,” the Delta senator said. “Because insecurity is taking a threatening dimension the Senate is organising a submit.
“If the army is handicapped, we are all in trouble because without peace we cannot grow. First line charge is the way to go. It is significant.”
Also speaking, the Deputy Chairman of the committee, Ibrahim Danbaba, expressed disappointment at how funds budgeted are not released.
He further said that if the 2017 budget of the army only recorded 42 percent, its either “the planners did not do their jobs well or the money was diverted and used for other things that are 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 we are made available in the budget is sad,” the senator said.
“The overhead cost of the army was completely reduced and not based on what this committee recommended. It is shocking to know that only 42 per cent of that was released. You cannot project a hundred per cent budget for and perform for only seven months out of the twelve. Something must be wrong,” he said.
Earlier, Mr. Buratai, while reading out the army’s budgetary report, said overhead appropriation for 2017 recorded 42.82 percent and that amounted to N171 billion. He said N11.8 billion was released out of N20 billion for capital projects.
The Chief of Army Staff while stating the proposed budget for 2018, asked that the military be given more as he listed several projects to be embarked on.
“In preparation for 2018 budget, the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Budget and National Planning proposed a total sum of N233.05 billion. However, the Nigerian Army is requesting the sum of N261.67 billion.
“I wish to also expatiate that on the 2018 Nigerian Army capital budget proposal, vis-a-vis the projects captured by the ministry of budget and national planning, the ministry captured the sum of N21.6 billion.
“However, the Nigerian Army is requesting this hallowed chamber for an increase of N18.17 billion, which will surge the Nigerian Army’s capital proposal to N39.8 billion.
“We are intending to procure drones, establish reconnaisance centres for Nigerian Army at the sum of N2.05 billion. We also have the rehabilitation of Nigerian Army barracks across the six geopolitical zones at about five billion naira and we are also procuring more arms and ammunition which will amount to N4.8 billion.
“We have three additional divisions and N1.5 billion is required to operate and equip each division. I humbly pray that the sum of 195.7 billion naira should be approved for Nigerian army personnel monument in the 2018 budget.
“Also, the sum of N26.1 billion should be approved for the 2018 Nigerian Army overhead budget while the sum of 39.8 should be approved for the army’s 2018 capital budget,” he said.