Nigerian troops fighting Boko Haram insurgents in North-east Nigeria have complained that they have not received their allowances in the last two months.
Some of the soldiers who disclosed this to PREMIUM TIMES in Maiduguri, the Borno state capital on Friday said the situation was causing them hunger and deflating their morale.
The soldiers whose identity cannot be revealed because they are not allowed to talk to journalists, said they are paid N30, 000 monthly as operation allowance and ration cash allowance (RCA).
“We are being forced to reach out to the media, not because we want to indict anybody, but to cry out and let the world, especially Nigerian government, know that we are dying of hunger here due to unpaid allowances”, said a ranked soldier who spoke to PREMIUM TIME reporter on phone.
“We that are under Operation Lafiya Dole are supposed to be paid special allowances of N1, 000 daily which amounts to N30, 000 or N31, 000 monthly as the case may be. But in the last two months now, nothing has been done in that regard.
“Also our RCA which takes care of the feeding of soldiers have also been defaulted, and this has left us in very dire situation with little or no morale to continue fighting.”
Officials at the Military Command and Control Centre, Maiduguri, confirmed the development but partly blamed it on the inefficiency in the banking system.
The aggrieved soldiers said they could not understand why they should be owed allowances since August even though those in authority knew how important the stipend is to them.
Another soldier of the junior rank cadre told PREMIUM TIMES that the monthly stipend ought to be N45, 000, but the authorities deduct N15, 000 for common pool feeding for the troops especially those on the frontline.
“In the past, they used to pay it regularly. But now we are being owed for two months and we are already in the middle of October”, he said.
“The allowance generally, is N45, 000 that is supposed to be given. But they are removing N15, 000 for feeding, then they would pay N20, 000 into soldiers account and N10, 000 would be paid cash directly to soldiers.
“September was the second month that we have not been paid and you should know that it is affecting our morale because if you are working and what is due to you is being owed, it certainly affects your attitude to work. So we beg whoever that is holding this money back to kindly help us out”.
When PREMIUM TIMES contacted the headquarters of the Operation Lafiya Dole in Maiduguri with the soldiers’ complaints, the Deputy Director Army Public Relations, Onyeman Nwachukwu, a colonel, responded in a brief text message that the Command was not unaware of the challenges the troops are facing.
“Firstly, I want to thank you for making this enquiry, particularly considering that this is a very vital issue as it affects the wellbeing of our troops both officers and soldiers”, he said.
“The operation allowance is a flat rate for all troops in the theatre of operation. All Operation Allowances and Ration Cash Allowances (RCA) covering up to the month of August have been fully paid. And that of September is currently ongoing.
“If any of our troops are yet to receive the payments, certainly it must be due to the remoteness of some of our deployments and the dearth of banking facilities in those locations.
“Frankly, drawing our attention to this development is appreciated and we will immediately look into it and resolve it”, he said.
On Wednesday, the Theatre Commander, Operation Lafiya Dole, Attahiru Ibrahim, a major general, declared that the Boko Haram war would soon wind up because troops have depleted the ranks of the insurgents.
He also said no territory of Borno State is under any kind of control of the Boko Haram, courtesy of the gallantry of the troops.