Hopes that a quick end will come to the Boko Haram insurgency ravaging the north-eastern part of the country appears dimmed after the heads of the military formations coordinating the war cried out over non-availability of appropriated funds to prosecute the war.
At a closed door session with the Senate on Wednesday, the Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Olonishakin, and the Service Chiefs, lamented that not a single kobo out of the N29.958billion voted for the entire military formations for prosecution of the war against Boko Haram insurgency in the N574 billion 2015 supplementary budget has been released to them.
The Service Chiefs also said that the non-release of the money has further put the Nigerian troops at a disadvantage by not allowing them to carry out the needed upgrading of their obsolete equipment and restocking them.
Informing the public of what transpired at the meeting yesterday, the media unit of the Senate President’s office issued a statement which reads: “The leadership of the Senate and chairmen of committees relating to security agencies on Wednesday held a meeting with heads of the military to review the developments in the fight against insurgency in the North east zone, particularly in the wake of the recent vicious attack on Dalori town in Borno State.
“At the closed door meeting which lasted for about two hours and presided over by Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, several issues tailored at further empowering the security agencies to win the war against the Boko Haram insurgency were discussed in a frank and open exchange between the two sides.
“The military chiefs, led by General Abayomi Olonishakin, the Chief of Defence Staff, briefed the senators on the various challenges faced by the military, particularly the state of their equipment which they said require serious upgrading and restocking.
“They also complained that their vote in the 2015 supplementary budget has not been released, thereby hampering their ability to fund their operations.
“Other issues that came up for discussion was the need to continuously increase the personnel in the three branches of the military and the hindrance posed by the procurement process which they said is very slow.
“The military chiefs also canvassed the need for the review of some laws governing their operations so as to make them able to respond to emergency situations they now confront in the North-East zone as well as conform with global best practices.
“The need for regional support for the fight against insurgency in the North-East by the neighbouring countries, resettlement of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) to their traditional homes, the issue of intelligence gathering and sharing among the various agencies and mobilisation of the international community, particularly through inter-parliamentary efforts in support of the fight against terrorism in Nigeria, were also discussed.
“The senators assured the military chiefs that they will fast track the request for the review of the relevant laws being complained about by putting them on the Priority Bills list once they were given adequate information on areas that need to be amended.
“They also promised to take up the issue of release of funds raised by the military chiefs with the Ministry of Finance immediately. The committees on Defence, Finance and appropriation have also been mandated to ensure that the issues raised by the Service Chiefs are taken care of in the budget.
“The senators noted that at this point when the nation had recorded serious gains in the fight against insurgency, all hands should be on deck to sustain the tempo against the violent groups.”
The meeting was said to have been attended by Saraki, his deputy, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, Senate Leader, Ali Ndume, Deputy Majority Whip, Francis Alimikhena, Chairman, Senate Committee on Navy, Isa Hamma Misau, and his colleague in the Committee on Air Force, Duro Faseyi. However, Chairman of Senate Committee on Defence, Senator Ahmed Lawan, was absent.
The Chief of Defence Staff, General Olonishakin, led the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, his colleague in the Navy, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ette Ibas, and the Air Force, Air Marshal Sadiq Abubakar, to the meeting.
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