A member of the House of Representatives has said President Goodluck Jonathan and the Nigerian Army have by their recent remarks vindicated Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State, who was lampooned by the Presidency for raising the alarm that the military were not properly motivated and lacked the right hardware to fight Boko Haram insurgents in the North-East.
The lawmaker, Mohammed Tahir Monguno, representing Monguno/Marte/Nganzai Federal Constituency of Borno, in a statement yesterday said with recent developments, he expected the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Matters, Dr. Doyin Okupe, to be humble and courageous enough to tender an open apology to the governor.
Monguno said: “My attention was particularly drawn to the lead story of the Daily Trust Newspaper of Friday, June 6, 2014, with the caption, ‘Military wares issues being handled, Jonathan says’. The story had reported the president as saying he was tackling the problems of inadequate equipment for the military, which to every Nigerian, was a clear admittance of the first alarm raised by Governor Kashim Shettima sometime ago and which led to unwarranted attacks on the governor by spokesmen from the Presidency and indeed the president himself at his media chat around that period.
“The fact that the Presidency did not deny the Daily Trust report since Friday means there is no question about it. But even before the president admitted the true situation on Friday, the head of the Nigerian Army’s Account and Budget, Major General Abdullahi Muraina, was quoted by the media on May 22, 2014 at a press conference in Jaji Military Cantonment in Kaduna State, lamenting the fact that the army was being poorly funded by the Federal Government, saying the allocations being made in successive budgetary allocations were not enough to equip troops deployed to the North-East to fight insurgency.
“To quote General Muraina he said: ‘Currently, budgetary allocation for the military is inadequate to meet the contemporary security challenges and also cater for the welfare of the Nigerian Army. The Nigerian Army is enmeshed in the bureaucratic bottlenecks for the funding approvals for military operations. This calls for a review as the increasing speed at which the effects of conflict appear in the operational environment will continue to challenge commanders’.”
Still quoting Muraina, the statement said: ‘Currently, budgetary allocation for the military is inadequate to meet the contemporary security challenges and also cater for the welfare of the Nigerian Army. The Nigerian Army is enmeshed in the bureaucratic bottlenecks for the funding approvals for military operations. This calls for a review as the increasing speed at which the effects of conflict appear in the operational environment will continue to challenge commanders. For instance, the army budget for this year is just N4.8 billion. Assuming we committed 20,000 troops to the North-East operations, the jacket and helmet are in the average of about $1,000. If you change that to naira, it is about N150, 000. If you now have about 20,000 troops, this means that they are going to spend about $20 million and that is about N3 billion. N3 billion as a percentage of N4.8 billion which is the capital budget for this year is more than 50 per cent and that is just one item. We are not talking about uniforms, boots or structures where they will stay. We are not talking about training, because training is key to enhancing the capability of the force’.
“This was what the general said and that again is admittance of the fact that the army is poorly equipped to fight the insurgents, since funds are what is needed to get the right equipment”, Monguno noted.