Army got N1.08tr in 28 months – Finance minister tells Senate

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The Army got N1,008.84 trillion as budget releases between January 2019 and this year’s first quarter, Finance, Budget, and National Planning Minister Hajiya Zainab Ahmed told the Senate on Tuesday.

Mrs. Ahmed made the revelation when she appeared before the Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume-led Senate Committee on Army.

Citing a letter from the Chief of Defence Staff last week, Ndume said the military authorities complained that they had a shortfall of over N50 billion as far as fund releases from the Finance ministry were concerned.

Ahmed, however, gave the breakdown of how her ministry disbursed N1,008.84 trillion to the Army in the past two years as follows: N129.69 billion (Capital Expenditure); N39.76 billion (Overhead Cost); N681.79 (Personnel Cost); and N157.6 billion (Special Releases).

She said that the ministry has been “responsible and responsive” in providing funds for the Nigerian Army.

Mrs. Ahmed said: “The Ministry of Finance and National Planning, and indeed, the President, priorities are given to funding for the Armed of Forces of Nigeria.

“Apart from the fact that we try best efforts to fund what is provided for in the budget by almost 100 per cent, there has also been a lot of instances where the security service go to the President, get special approvals and we still provide funds.

“So, perhaps what we are providing is not enough, but the fact is we provide what is budgeted and we provide what is approved.

“Maybe, the thing to do in the meantime is to take stock of the real needs of the Nigerian Army. You have an opportunity in the supplementary budget that is coming in so that we can address some of that.”

On capital funding, the Minister said: “In 2019, what was budgeted for the Nigerian Army was N19.6 billion, adding that N12.84 billion was released, representing 64.37 percent.

“In 2020, the total capital budget for the Nigerian Army was N34.37 billion and this amount was released 100 percent.

“In 2021 (that is this current year), the total budget for the Nigerian Army is N29 billion as of April. We have released N17.98 billion of that, which is 68.92 percent. It means we are on course to also release 100 percent.

“There was outside-of-budget spending because the need was higher than what was provided for in the budget. There was a total provision of N64.5 billion for procurement of military equipment that was provided for through special approval of Mr. President.

“In terms of overhead cost, in 2019, what was budgeted as was N15.64 billion out of which we released N14.299 billion representing 91.01 percent.

“In 2020, what was budgeted for overhead was N20.634 billion, and N20.471 billion was released, representing 99.21 percent.

“In 2021, which is the current year, the total budget for the year is N20.63 billion and three months releases that we have done so far on overhead totaling N4.99 billion representing 96.75 percent of the prorated budget for the three months because the year is still running.”

On personnel cost, she said: “In 2019, what was budgeted as Personnel Cost for the Nigerian Army was N192.155 billion but because of the adjustment that we have had to make for the minimum wage, the releases were 122.91 percent over the budget at N237.42 billion.

“Apart from the releases that were directly done in the budget by adjustment for the minimum wage, there was also an additional release of N45.195 billion from the Public Service-wide adjustment also meant to be an augmentation of salaries due to the shortfall in the budget.”