Zainab Ahmed, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, has said the Federal Government prioritises funding for the military, insisting that it has provided 100 per cent of the funding requested.
Ahmed said this at a hearing of the Senate Committee on Army in Abuja on Tuesday, according to a statement issued by Yunusa Tanko Abdullahi, her Special Adviser, Media and Communications, on Wednesday.
The presentation and clarifications by Ahmed were based on the news making the rounds that the military is being underfunded.
“We have been able to finance 100 per cent of what has been provided in the budget, and also there are many instances where service chiefs met the President and got approval for special projects, and that also we have funded 100 per cent.
“Perhaps, what we are providing for the armed forces is not enough, but as far as budgeted approved allocation is concerned, we have provided 100 per cent and more. This meeting, therefore, affords an opportunity to look into the provision for the armed forces.
“Let us take stock of the needs of the military and see if the supplementary budget might address that issue. So, it is an opportunity we can explore,” Ahmed said.
According to the minister, the Finance Ministry released the budgeted funds for the military, adding that the President has taken a significant interest in ensuring the needs of the armed forces are met.
She said: “But, let me quickly say, as a matter of fact, that in 2019, 19.6billion was budgeted for capital, and 12.84billion was released which amounted to 64.37 per cent. In 2020, 34.37billion was allocated and that allocation was released 100 per cent. In 2021, as at May ending, out of the 29billion budgeted, 17.98billion representing 61.92 per cent disbursement and we are expecting to achieve 100 per cent disbursement too, for 2021.
“For overhead, in 2019, out of the budgeted amount of 15.64billion, 14.299billion was released, which represents 91.01 per cent.
“In 2020, overhead was 20.63billion and releases was 20.471billion, representing 99.21 per cent, and for the current year 2021, in the last three months, out of the budgeted overhead of 20.63billion, the sum of 4.99billion has been released, which is 96.75 per cent prorated for three months.
“We have been responsive and responsible, in terms of what we have done and what we have released to the armed forces. The President puts a premium on the welfare and equipment for the military, and we are doing our utmost.
“All sectors are critical and the ministry has done so much to provide resources as budgeted. I know we can do more, but we are also constrained by funding.
The Service chiefs represented by their various Heads of Accounts and Budget were present at the hearing, and all confirmed the details and the figures presented by the minister.
Speaking earlier, Senator Ali Ndume, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Army, said the hearing was organised in order for the National Assembly to know the true state of happenings following reports that the army is underfunded and limited to prosecute the war against insurgency.
“In the past couple of months, the security challenge in the country has reached an alarming level, with series of banditry and kidnappings in the northern part of Nigeria, and killing of officers and security personnel and arson in the South.
“This committee, therefore, is desirous of an immediate action to stem the tide. We are worried about the news from the military that resources are not made available for them to prosecute their operations. We are, therefore, worried that Nigeria has not been so bad; citizens and communities now do deals with bandits to safeguard their lives and communities.
“We are here for the Honourable Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning to tell us what is possible in terms of funding for the military. The army says they do not have the funds, and we want the Honourable Minister to clear our doubts,” the statement quoted Ndume as saying.