Finance minister says Army got N1.08tr in 28 months, Senate

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CBN

Olusola Bello

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

She disclosed this when she appeared before the Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume-led Senate Committee on Army.

The minister 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).

The Ministry of Finance and National Planning, and indeed, the President, give priority to funding for the Armed of Forces of Nigeria.

“Apart from the fact that we try our best efforts to fund what is provided for in the budget by almost 100 percent, 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.

She said 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: “In 2019, what was budgeted for the Nigerian Army was N19.6 billion, and 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), she said, 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 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 augmentation of salaries due to the shortfall in the budget.”

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.

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