By Segun James
The General Overseer of the Latter Rain Assembly, Pastor Tunde Bakare, has urged the military to justify its huge allocation for the past 10 years, saying it is very embarrassing that despite over N6 trillion allocated to the Nigerian Armed Forces in the last 10 years, soldiers still complain about obsolete equipment to prosecute insurgences in some part of the country.
Bakare, in his state of the nation address with the theme: The Prophetic Portrait of Nigeria in its Latter Days, said that the reported odds faced by the soldiers fighting for the country is a cause for serious concern.
According to him, “between 2008 and 2018, N6 trillion has been allocated to the Federal Ministry of Defence. Between 2012 and 2014, it received a whopping 19.9 per cent of the total budget on average. Under the current administration, defence has received a significant percentage of the annual budget.
“In 2016, for instance, the ministry was allocated N443 billion out of N6.06 trillion; in 2017, N469.8 billion out of N7.44 trillion; and in 2018, N576.4 billion out of N9.12 trillion. In 2017, N6.8 billion was budgeted for defence equipment, while Operation Lafiya Dole and other operations of the armed forces received N78 billion. With these relatively huge allocations, even with average budget performance, the allegations that our soldiers fight under poor conditions are intolerable”.
“If we further consider the fact that recurrent expenditure has been fully performed as overhead costs are covered, then it becomes inconceivable that any soldier risking his or her life for the Nigerian state should be owed a dime of his or her allowance. Even more disturbing is the 2017 investigative report that soldiers in the theatre of war lack basic necessities such as food, uniforms and footwear, despite the fact that a portion of their wages is questionably deducted as feeding allowance.
“These reports, in addition to the 2018 protests by soldiers deployed in the theatre of war, give cause for concern especially against the backdrop of the recent resurgence of the terrorists.”
He lamented that “the allegations that our soldiers are forced to confront terrorists with inferior weapons have been denied by the Nigerian Army, these claims must still be thoroughly investigated and acted upon rather than merely dismissed.
“Recent news of the loss of territories to Boko Haram and recent videos of our soldiers being massacred by terrorists are more potent in the consciousness of the average Nigerian than any denial the military officials can muster. Our military must prove that it is fully equipped to prosecute this war not just by attempting to win the propaganda war, but by winning on the actual warfront. That is the only way to justify our defence spending over the past decade.”
“I salute the courage of these heroes who have put their lives on the line in active service to the fatherland. Our condolences go to the families of the soldiers who have lost their lives in battle, from the five airmen who died in the helicopter crash in Damasak at the beginning of this year, to those who were killed in the attacks on the military bases in Jilli, Yobe Statemand in Garunda, Metele and Baga, Borno State.
Bakare said the “President, the National Security Council, the Ministry of Defence, the Army Headquarters, and the National Assembly Committees on Defence must re-examine the defence architecture, especially the human resource factor, and address every anomaly in the interest of the vulnerable rather than the powerful. Failure to do this could undo the gains of the war on terror”.
“The soldiers, on their part, must approach the call of duty with civility and courage; with civility because the reports and allegations of human rights violations by the military are repugnant and unbecoming of the distinguished profession.”
Bakare also lamented that since 2013, the nation has been submerged in the “cesspool of organisaed corruption awhile the perpetrators have been left unpunished.
He urged Nigerians to put the country first and only under such condition can the nation move forward.