Molly Kilete, Abuja
The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Gabriel Olonisakin, disclosed on Tuesday that only 40 percent of the capital budget for 2019 was released to the Defence Headquarters (DHQ), a situation he says has affected the security effectiveness of the Nigerian Armed Forces.
Gen. Olonisakin, who made this known when he received members of the House of Representatives’ Committee on Defence, led by its Chairman, Jimmy Benson, also indicated that only 72.6 percent of the capital budget allocation for 2018 was released to the DHQ.
The General, expressing concern over the situation, told members of the Committee that the Nigerian Armed Forces are currently battling security challenges encompassing an Islamist insurgency, armed banditry, kidnapping, oil theft, pipeline vandalism, farmer-herder clashes, and ethno-religious conflicts among other violent crimes in virtually every state of the federation.
Lamenting what the Nigerian Armed Forces was going through as a result of non release of its complete budgetary allocation, Olonisakin said, “kindly recall that our previous interaction on the implementation of the 2019 budget and our defense of the 2020, budget proposal.
“The DHQ avers that only 72.6 percent of approved capital budget allocation for the year 2018 was released.
“For the year 2019, only 40 percent of the approved capital budget allocation was released. These have significant impact on the DHQ desire to meet some of its operational and welfare projections,” the Defence Chief said.
“It is worthy of mention here that DHQ successfully implemented the 2018 budget in line with the policy thrust of due process accountability and transparency.
“This was done with the funds made available. The implementation of the 2019 budget is also ongoing.
“We appreciate the support of the National Assembly, particularly the House of Representatives Committee on Defence, in putting the Armed Forces of Nigeria as part of the legislative agenda of the House of Representatives.
“It is our hope that with the support of the National Assembly we will be able to develop an Armed Forces of Nigeria that is well motivated, trained and equipped to respond adequately to our national security commitment.”
General Olonisakin commended President Muhammadu Buhari for his continuing efforts at ensuring that the military is provided with the wherewithal to carry out its constitutional duties, despite other competing demands for the national resources, reiterating the loyalty of the Armed Forces to defend the country from any invasion.
In his address at the occasion, the House Committee Chairman on Defence, Benson, said the Committee members were at the DHQ as part of their oversight functions, and to find out the challenges faced by the Armed Forces.
He commended the military for the various operations it has embarked upon in different parts of the country, despite the poor budgetary allocation, promising to do something about it.
“The Army is engaged in many operations in about 36 states of the federation in various operation or the other. Despite the funds challenge, you have been able to participate and calm nerves in these operations,” Benson said.
“Despite the fund challenges you have lived above board and you are doing very well.
“You have been involved in local production of military hardwares and softwares. We were happy when we got to DICON and saw the Ezeugwu MRAP. I think it is a step in the right direction. The Ezugwu MRAP, in my opinion, should be a national pride because it’s going to save us a lot of foreign exchange, it’s going to lead to transfer of technology among our youths, it’s also going to make us a hub for military hardwares production in Africa.
“Secondly, the other directorates are also engaged in local production of software, and nowadays wars of insurgency are fought in that space. So, it’s also a step in the right direction to know that these great things are happening under your watch,” the lawmaker said.