Finance Minister and Chief of Army Staff as be asked to shed light in Budgetary Releases for War.
The Senate has summoned the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, and the Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Attahiru Ibrahim, to shed light on budgetary allocations and releases to that branch of the military, as uncertainty and concerns mount in the wake of growing instability in the region.
NewsReport Nigeria gathered that on Tuesday, May 5, they will appear before the Senate Committee on Army, along with the Director-General of the Budget Office, Ben Akabueze.
They are to have accurate records of the Nigerian Army’s budget and expenditures/purchases from 2019 to date in combating insurgency, banditry, and other types of instability that have plagued the region.
Meanwhile, the committee’s representative, Senator Ali Ndume, chastised the minister for allegedly ignoring the committee’s invitations.
Ndume lamented Ahmed’s exclusion from such a critical deliberation on the nation’s challenging security issues on Wednesday, during a meeting with officials from the Federal Ministry of Finance.
“Honestly, we are not pleased that the Minister of Finance is not here today, considering the fact that she was properly invited and she understood the relevance of the topic we invited her to speak with us,” Ndume said, expressing his disapproval.
“There is nothing more important than she should be attending to right now than the real issue of instability that exists in Nigeria.
We blamed the military, but the soldiers say they don’t have enough vehicles, guns, or ammo to deal with because there isn’t enough money to purchase them.
“We also invited the Minister now to discuss why her office was not supporting the activities of the Army and she is not here. This is not acceptable.”
However, on hand to clarify issues was the Permanent Secretary, Special Duties in the Finance Ministry, Aliyu Shinkafi.
He told the committee that N75bn was appropriated and released in 2019 while an additional N7bn was appropriated from the service-wide vote and also fully released.
According to Shinkafi, N75bn was appropriated in the 2020 fiscal year but N74.99bn was released while in the running financial year, N100bn was appropriated out of which N19.4bn has so far been released for the first quarter. “Just yesterday, we released N19.95bn for the second quarter,” he added.
“We believe that we are on course as far as releases for these operations are concerned,” the Permanent Secretary added.
But the Committee chairman produced Ndume a letter in which the Chief of Defence Staff purportedly claimed that the military authorities had a shortfall in releases from the Finance Ministry.
Ndume said, “the letter from the Defence headquarters on the funding of Operations Lafiya Dole is claiming that they have a shortfall of N50bn in terms of releases and requested us to do a follow up on the matter”.
But Shinkafi insisted that all the amount appropriated had been released, which prompted the committee to demand that the ministry officials led by the Minister, Ahmed Zainab to come with details of the releases next Tuesday.