Fred Itua, Abuja
Chairman, Senate Committee on Army, Mohammed Ali Ndume, has warned against the danger of over-stretching the armed forces in the bid to resolve the country’s internal security challenges.
Ndume, a former leader of the Senate said the Army, for instance, has been drafted to assist in resolving communal clashes, banditry and other civil disturbances, instead of focusing on protecting the territorial integrity of the country.
He spoke when he appeared on a national television programme in Abuja.
Ndume, who hails from Borno South, the epicentre of Boko Haram insurgency, decried the increasing humanitarian crisis in the North East, adding that palliatives given to Nigerians by government were not getting to target beneficiaries in Borno State.
Responding to the lack of funding for the military, Ndume said a dime was yet to be released to the Army from the capital component of the 2020 budget and that “the Army is just scavenging around for funds to get their operations going.
“The Nigerian Armed Forces has a serious problem of funding. The performance of the budget for the Armed Forces in 2019 was abysmal. The Armed Forces in the first quarter of 2020, have been able to keep only the recurrent expenditure and personal cost. We have been talking to the Minister of Finance because we are aware that the Army and the Armed Forces have not been given anything from their capital budget for 2020. We are in a war situation.
“The pandemic has affected everything worldwide, including prices of crude oil. The Nigerian Army has gotten many of its armoured cars and tanks. It is not just to have the equipments. You also need the ammunition and operational funds to execute the war.
“The political class and those of us from the region where the insurgency is being fought, have been crying out that the Army should do more. I see the war on insurgency coming to an end soon with the new vigour and new support. The game has changed.
“The hunter is now being hunted. At the beginning of the year, Boko Haram terrorists were daring the Army. They were even going to their formations to attack them. From my discussions with the Chief of Army Staff, he is going to stay back in Borno until the insurgency is over.
“The Air Force is also deploying. Unfortunately, the Armed Forces have too many things on their hands. They’re now dealing with civil matters like banditry, communal clashes and others. The number of soldiers on ground is not adequate to take care of these demands, but they’re trying their best. The situation has been reversed. Before COVID-19, we were facing a serious humanitarian crisis in the North East. Now, it has been further compounded by the pandemic. The palliatives are not getting to the people,” Ndume said.