Don’t Cut Army Budget, Buratai Appeals to Lawmakers

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Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai
By Shola Oyeyipo in Abuja

 

The Chief of Army Staff (CAS), Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai, Wednesday made a passionate plea to the National Assembly to prevail on the Ministry of Budget and National Planning to exempt the Nigerian Army from existing budget ceiling or envelope allocation system so as to be able to sustain the fight against insurgents across Nigeria.

Buratai, who made the call when he presented the Nigerian Army 2018 budget performance appraisal and the 2019 budget defence before the Hon. Rimande Shawulu-led House of Representative Committee on Army, said this is necessary in view of the on-going structural changes, volatile security environment and massive engagement of troops in virtually all the 36 states of the federation.

The army chief said in 2018, the percentage performance of the Nigerian Army budget personnel emolument was 100 per cent, overhead was 100 pe rcent and capital was 91.69 per cent, adding that: “It is in the light of this that I make bold to say that the budget has performed reasonably well.”

In preparing the 2019 budget, he noted that: “The Nigerian Army is requesting for the sum of N472.8 billion. However, the Ministry of Budget and National Planning proposed the total sum of N232.4 billion only.”

In a breakdown of the fund required, Buratai said the sum of N350.5 billion should be approved for Nigerian Army personnel emolument in the 2019 Budget, the sum of N43.6 billion should be approved for 2019 Army overhead budget and that the sum of N78.5 billion should be approved for capital budget.

“The National Assembly should change the 40 per cent second installment payment for purchase of 3 x LUH AS-350 for NA Aviation with the procurement of Armoured Personnel Carrier ‘A’ vehicles.

“The National Assembly should prevail on the Ministry of Budget and National Planning to exempt the Nigerian Army from the existing budget ceiling or envelope allocation system in view of the on-going structural changes, volatile security environment and massive engagement of troops in virtually all the 36 states of the federation,” Buratai urged.

According to him, “The Nigerian Army has for years grappled with fund insufficiency. However it has remained resilient and ever dedicated to the discharge of its constitutional roles. It was able to cope with the financial constraints due to the relative peaceful environment across the country prior to the re-emergence of insurgency and other hostile activities of Violent Non-State Actors.

“You may recall that since the beginning of 2015, the activities of the violent non-state actors have exacerbated in various regions across our dear country. In response to these, the Nigerian Army has expanded from five Divisions to eight Divisions and is currently engaged in war against Boko Haram terrorists and internal security operations in virtually all the 36 states of the federation.”

He said in the bid to adequately curtail the perpetrators of violence, the Nigerian Army established the Nigerian Army Special Forces Command, Nigerian Army Cyber Warfare Command, Special Intelligence Command, Land Forces Simulation Centre and Nigerian Army Aviation, amongst others.

“These commitments have extended our core constitutional role, and have impacted significantly on our human and material assets. This is in addition to inadequate budget allocation and the subsisting envelope budget system,” he noted.

He reassured Nigerians that the Nigerian Army is committed to securing the territorial integrity of the country from any violation, stressing that: “The clearance operation to rid our country of the remnant of Boko Haram terrorists and other criminal groups are currently ongoing.

“The timely and complete implementation of 2019 budget will thus enhance the fulfillment of this mandate.”