By Abba Gwale
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Hajiya Zainab Shamsuna Ahmad, has said the Buhari led-Administration has prioritized funding for the armed forces of Nigeria.
The Minister said this in a statement signed by her Special Adviser on Media and Communications, Yunusa Tanko Abdullahi, at Senate Committee Hearing in Abuja yesterday.
She said, “We have been able to finance 100 percent of what has been provided in the budget. There are many instances where service chiefs met the President and got approval for special projects, and that also we have funded 100 percent.
Perhaps, what we are providing for the armed forces is not enough, but as far as budgeted approved allocation is concerned, we have provided 100 percent and more. This meeting, therefore, affords an opportunity to look into the provision for the armed forces.
Let us take stock of the needs of the military and see if the supplementary budget might address that issue. So, it is an opportunity we can explore.
But, let me quickly say, as a matter of fact, that in 2019, 19.6billion was budgeted for capital, and 12.84billion was released which amounted to 64.37 percent. In 2020, 34.37billion was allocated and that allocation was released 100 percent. In 2021, as at May ending, out of the 29billion budgeted, 17.98billion representing 61.92 percent disbursement and we are expecting to achieve 100 percent disbursement too, for 2021.
For overhead, in 2019, out of the budgeted amount of 15.64billion, 14.299billion was released, which represents 91.01 percent,” he added.
She further said in 2020, overhead was 20.63billion and funds released was 20.471billion, representing 99.21 percent, and for the current year 2021, in the last three months, out of the budgeted overhead of 20.63billion, the sum of 4.99billion has been released, which is 96.75 percent prorated for three months.
We have been responsive and responsible, in terms of what we have done and what we have released to the armed forces. The President puts premium on the welfare and equipment for the military, and we are doing our utmost best.
All sectors are critical and the ministry has done so much to provide resources as budgeted. I know we can do more, but we are also constrained by funding,” she continued.
The Service chiefs, represented by their various Heads of Accounts and Budgets, were present at the hearing, and all confirmed the details and the figures presented by the Honourable Minister.
The presentation and clarifications by Mrs. Ahmed were based on the news making the rounds that the military is being underfunded.
“In the past couple of months, the security challenge in the country has reached an alarming level, with series of banditry and kidnappings in the northern part of Nigeria, and killing of officers and security personnel and arson in the South,” said by Senator Ali Ndume, Chairman Senate Committee on Defence.
“This committee, therefore, is desirous of an immediate action to stem the tide. We are worried about the news from the military that resources are not made available for them to prosecute their operations,” he also said.
According to him, the armed forces are overwhelmed because they do not have the resources to do their jobs.
Meanwhile, the Chief of Accounts and Budget, Nigerian Army, Major General Adekunle Adigun Adesope, said that in his 30 years in the Army, 2020 was a milestone for him, because that was the first time that he saw 100 percent disbursement to the military.
He commended the support of President Muhammad Buhari and the Honourable Minister in providing funding to the military.
He, however, appealed for more funding, because what is appropriated to the military, according to him, is inadequate.