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Buratai appears before Senate committee to defend 2018 budget

Buratai appears before Senate committee to defend 2018 budget

- The chief of army staff Tukur Buratai lamented poor funding of the Nigerian army

- Buratai commended the performance of the Nigerian army’s budget for 2017

- He said the commitment of army has extended their human and material resources

The chief of army staff, Tukur Buratai on Thursday, February 1, appeared before the Senate committee to defend the 2018 budget proposed by the Nigerian army, noted that agitations had spread across the country since 2015, making the military to be deployed for internal security operations.

Punch reports that Buratai decried poor funding of the Nigerian army even though the military operations are being carried out in all the states of the federation.

The army chief also decried the envelope budgeting system adopted by the federal government, which he said, had limited the outfit’s access to funds.

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According to him, ''Let me quickly appraise the performance of the Nigerian Army’s budget for 2017. You will recall that since the beginning of 2015, the activities of violent non-state actors have aggravated in various regions across our dear country.

''In response to this, the Nigerian army has expanded from five divisions to eight divisions, and is currently engaging in the war against Boko Haram and other internal security operations – virtually in all the 36 states of the federation.

''These commitments have extended our core constitutional roles and have impacted significantly on our human and material resources.

''The inadequate budgetary allocation, the subsisting envelope budget system and partial release of funds have negatively affected the Nigerian Army towards achieving an utmost secured environment for the citizenry.''

The army chief however decried that the ministry of finance was deducting Nigerian army’s power consumption bill from source, urging the Senate to stop the withdrawal.

Buratai, while appraising the Nigerian Army’s 2017 budget, said N133.44bn budgeted for unpaid allowances such as ration cash, medical and cost, was fully released.

He said the Nigerian army’s overheads appropriation had a performance of 42.82 per cent, amounted to N171.7bn. He however said only N11,849,000,000 was released for capital expenditure, out of the N20,623,000,000 appropriated, representing 57.46 per cent.

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On the 2018 proposal, the army chief said the ministry of defence and the ministry of budget and national planning proposed N233.05bn.

He said: “However, the Nigerian Army is requesting the sum of N261.67bn.”

Commenting, a member of the committee, Senator Abdullahi Danbaba, lamented that the Army was being underfunded “in a situation where we have so many challenges in terms of even the territorial integrity of this country.”

He said apart from the fact that the overheads of the Army was “completely reduced” from what the committee recommended, the government failed to release the amount appropriated in full.

The chairman of the committee, George Akume, said the lawmakers would engage with the relevant authorities to ensure that the Army enjoy full releases especially on overheads.

Meanwhile, had reported that the Catholic Archbishop Emeritus of Lagos Archdiocese, Anthony Cardinal Okogie has called on President Buhari to focus more on the security challenges facing the country than preparing for the 2019 elections.

According to him, security is more important than the election. Okogie also charged Nigerians to demand from the current government the whereabouts of those responsible for the killing of Nigerians in different parts of the country, insisting: “what is the federal government and its security agencies waiting for?”

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