The Senate on Wednesday said the Nigerian Army was too poorly funded to fight Boko Haram insurgents and effectively tackle the myriad of security challenges confronting the country.
The Chairman Senate Committee on Army, Senator Ali Ndume, stated this in Abuja on Wednesday as his Senate Committee considered the 2021 budget of the Nigerian Army.
Ndume lamented that all Nigeria could allocate to the army even at a time it is prosecuting the war against Boko Haram in the Northeast and conducting similar security operations in at least 32 states was a paltry sum of N30 billion from a total national budget of N13 trillion.
He said the budget puts the Nigerian Army on the same level as the army of neighbouring Niger Republic and other very poor African countries.
“The whole of Nigerian Army budget is $1.3 billion. That is at the level of Niger, Chad and Sudan and other poor countries”.
“In a period of war where the country is borrowing and is planning to spend N13 trillion, the government is budgeting less than N30 billion as capital for the Nigerian army”.
The Senator was particularly disappointed with last year’s releases for Personnel; putting it as 83%.
The lawmaker was even more disappointed at the capital release for the army.
“Eighty-three per cent of their personnel was released to them. Imagine people who are in the war front, trying to protect the country.
“Worst of it, their capital, I mean money that is supposed to be given to them to buy the necessary equipment, arms, and ammunition, secure kitting for the armed forces, only 64% of that money was released.”
On top of that, the 50% was released in first week of July. The second batch of it was released this week and Nigeria is at war”, he said.
Ndume said as things currently stand; there is no so much difference between the Nigerian army and the rag-tag army of bandits; stressing that the latter was even better equipped than the Nigerian army.
“What I see that is the difference between the Nigerian army and the bandits is that the Nigerian army is trained and they have a uniform. Even that, the bandits, some of them take away the uniform from the Nigerian army or they buy it from the market.
“Some of the bandits have better AK-47. I think they have what they call AK-49, the latest AK used by bandits and insurgents in the North East and North West.”
The Senate panel called for urgent upward review of the budget of the army which should be on the frontline charge to remove bureaucratic bottlenecks in its procurement processes.
Fielding questions from Journalists regarding the jailing of six Nigerians in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for funding Boko Haram; Ndume called on the government to find the political will to prosecute anyone linked to the terrorist group.
He reaffirmed his earlier stance against government’s policy of deradicalization and reintegration of repentant Boko Haram members
“You can’t be resettling people, pampering them while the war is on,” Ndume said.
He vehemently kicked against government’s amnesty to Boko Haram members who invaded his village and slaughtered scores of muslim clerics.
Ndume said there can be no reprieve for the repentant Boko Haram member that gave out information about the movement of the army that led to the killing of Col. D.C Bako in an attack in Dambwa last September.
In addition to that, the recent attack in Dambwa was carried out by a repentant giving information as to the movement of the army, the general that was killed was a victim.