Abuja — The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, yesterday disclosed that the Federal Government spent about N54 billion in funding operations of the Nigerian Army between 2019 and 2021.
Ahmed made the disclosure during an interactive session held in Abuja with the Senate Committee on Army and representatives of the Chief of Defence Staff and Chief of Army Staff.
The Minister who was responding to accusations by the senatots that Army is poorly funded said, "If you permit me we have to put up some of the information that we have on that capital funding of the Nigerian Army in 2019 was N19.6 billion, N12.6 representing 64.3 percent was released, in 2020 N24.37 billion 100 percent, 2021 N29 billion released as at May we have released 17.98 which is 61 percent."
She told the Committee that President Muhammadu Buhari and the office of budget and planning prioritizes the funding of the military and that the president has made approval based on their direct demands for emergencies.
She noted that the military has made a special request for the provision of N64.5 billion assuring the committee that this also would be met.
Ahmed also stressed that the need for the army is very large, saying that the challenge calls for new methods of funding the military.
The Minister however assured that her ministry is to interface with the Nigerian Army on improved measures to fund security operations in the country.
She said, "Prioritize funding of armed forces of Nigeria. Besides, the budgetary funding that we finance a 100 per cent there are a lot of instances that the security personnel goes directly to the president to seek funding and the president prioritize the funding. Perhaps what we are providing was not enough the fact is we provide for the military and we have an opportunity in the supplementary budget where we are going to address some of that. We need to sit together and ensure that we look at how to fund the Armed forces".
Speaking earlier, Chairman Senate Committee on Army, Senator Ali Ndume alleged that the only place he sees military preparedness is Abuja where they are well kited and armed with new AK47 assault rifles.
He lamented over the poor funding of the army saying it was unreasonable that out of a National Budget of N13 trillion, only N30 billion was allocated to the army.
He said, "I interact with the soldiers, I have gone through the formation, I cannot see a soldier holding brand new AK47. It is so bad that the Nigerian Army is rationing ammunition among soldiers. I can be quoted. In a budget of N13 trillion, you are allocating the N30 billion.
"As I said I can be quoted the only place I see new AK47 is in Abuja. That is necessary because that is the image of Nigeria. Nigerians are looking forward to this meeting hoping that we can resolve it, in terms of addressing the challenges of the Nigerian Army. The reason we are here is because of the serious security challenges we are facing in the country that is spreading like cancer. We are here to interact and find out what is the problem, what are the immediate solutions."