By Lateef Adegbite
For years , there have been complaints by the military of a shortfall in releases from the ministry of Finance, to fund the operations of the Maiduguri, Borno state, based Operation Lafiya Dole, prosecuting the anti-Jihadist war in the north east Geo-political region.
This may have informed why Ali Ndume, led Senate Committee on the Army to had invited Hajia Zainab Ahmed, minister of Finance , Budget and National Planning, to appear before the Committee on Thursday, April 29, 2021 to throw more light on the military funding in order to know the liar.
The minister may not have honoured the Senate Committee invitation, but she was said to have sent Aliyu Shinkafi, the ministry’s Permanent Secretary who was armed with the details of the financial releases to the military for the funding of the Operation Lafiya Dole in prosecuting the war on Counter-terrorism in the flash point north east states.
The minister may have kept a sealed lips over the military funding on theCounter-terrorism war in the north east over the years to avoid causing disaffection in the army. Shemay have been forced to speak out because of the pressure from the Ndume’s Committee to know who is to blame why the Thatre have not been able to crush the Islamic Fundamentalist Group, BokoHaram, and the Islamic State of West African Province, ISWAP, insurgents, despite the huge amount appropriated and released yearly for its operations.
Armed with the Financcial document given to him by the minister, Shinkafi, had said that the military Authorities have no reason whatsoever to complain of shortfall in military funding as the Operation Lafiya Dole, is a priority of the President Muhammadu Buhari, a retired Army General, led All Progressive Congress APC, government, at the Federal level.
Given an insider information of the classified information, the minister, who spoke through Shinkafi, the ministry Permanent Secretary, had told the Ndume led Committee that N75 billion was appropriated and released in 2019 for military funding. She noted that the appropriated amount,in 2019, was released during the tenure of Yusuf Tukur Buratai, a retired Lt. General and the immediate past Chief of Army Staff, COAS. She disclosed that additional N2.5 billion , was released to the military for the funding of the Theatre Counter-terrorism war in the north east.
The aggrieved Finance minister may have shocked the Ndume’s Committee members when she reveald that in 2020, N74.99 billion was released for military out of the N75 billion that was said to have been appropriated for it. Hajia Ahmed, who could no longer keep a closed lips on the military funding and allowed her name to be dragged to the mud had said that N38.99 billion have so far been released for the Theatre funding out of the N100 billion appropriated for it. The breakdown shows that N19.4 billion was released for the military funding under the current COAS, Lt. General. Ibrahim Atthahiru while the second tranche of the release of N19.95 billion million was made in the second quarter of 2021.
Last March, some unnamed soldiers of a Battalion of the Operation Lafiya Dole Theatre had protested against the non-payment of their allowances and poor equipment, which was captured by the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation, NBC, now suspended Channels Television. The 66 soldiers were said to have been Corut marshalled and found guilty of the mutiny, thus made to face the Consequences of facing the firing squad.
Note that the Private Television station , had been suspended for daring the government to invite an official of the Court Proscribed Indigenous of Biafra, IPOD, /Eastern Security Network, ESN, to their station to speak on the killing of one Ikonso, regarded as the overall Commander of the Group, by the Joint operation of the Police Intelligence Response Team, IRT, Department of State Security, DSS, and the soldiers of 82 Division personnel, at their Awomama Headquarters in Oru East Local government Area of Imo state, on Saturday, April,24, 2021.
The NBC, may not have found the invitation of the IPO, Chieftain , by Channels Television to their station funny. This may have informed why it has no option but to apply the sledge hammer on the station as a way of silencing it.
It is instructive to note that the Financial releases which the Buhari Administration was said have made towards the military funding between 2019 and now, to support the operations of the Operations of the Lafiya Dole anti-Jihadist war in the north was different from the approved release of $1 billion from the country excess Crude account by the 36 states governor of the Federation to procure arms to help fight the BokoHaram and ISWAP ,insurgents, which remains a subject of debate till date.
In spite the claims and counter claims between the Military and and Hajia Ahmed, the minister of Finance, over the alleged shortfall in military funding over the last couple of years, Atthahiru, the COAS, may have known that as the current COASA, he and his soldiers, coud not afford to fail the nation in crushing the BokoHaram and ISWAP insurgents in the north east.
He has told t those that cares to listen, that given the mandate of the Nigerian President to the 7 Army Division, , Maimalari Cantonment/Operation Lafiya Dole, the Army remain Committed to the focus of the Operations which ‘’is total annihilation of the insurgents from the two terrorist Groups operating in Nigeria. He maintained that the troops are ‘’committed to ending the war and other insecurity challenges facing the country such as banditry and kidnapping among other violent Crimes’’.
The COAS, may have gladdened the mind of Farouq Yahaya, a Major-General and the Theatre Commander and his soldiers, when he disclosed that Buhari, in his capacity as the Commander-In-Chief, C-In-C, has given his words to provide them with the needed resources required to prosecute the fight against the insurgency in the north east and other violent Crimes across the country.
Recall that Lucky irabor, a General , and the current Chief of Dence Staff, CDS and Atthahiru, the COAS, had one time or the other been the Commandesr of the Operation Lafiya Dole. They were said to have served under Yusuf Tukur Buratai, a retired Lt. General and former COAS.
Despite the efforts being made by Buhari and his security Chiefs to curb the crippling insecurity Challenges facing the country, Samuel Ortom,a one –time minister of State , Trade and Investment, during the Presidency of Goodluck Jonathan and now governor of Benue state, north central Nigeria, has added a new dimension to the country’s worsening insecurity situation.
In an emotional outburst,he had accused Buhari of working in the interest of the Fulanis to take over Nigeria. He cited the recent killings of over 70 residents in different parts of the state by armed herdsmen. The governor, who could not hide his feelings had said that’’ his body language is only what is being displayed out as a president and C-In- C, of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, but his actions and inactions shows that he is the President of the Fulani people’’. I have known this , he had said.
In his apparent reaction to the Benue governor’s remarks, against the Nigerian President, Garba Shehu, senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, who may have spoken the mind of the President who is not happy, had accused Ortom of only ‘’seeing the problems of others but could not see his own.
He noted that the retired army General ‘’is saddened by the killings in the country as well as the governors accusations’’. He disclosed that the General, who is worried over’’ the rising levels of killings and violence in various parts of the country call for the Collaboration of the people with the security agencies personnel to curb its continued occurrence’’ .
‘’The Buhari Administration is working to secure the nation’’, said. According to him, ‘’ no responsible government takes pleasure in seeing such events as the killing of military personnel and that of innocent Citizens taking refuge in an Internally Displaced Peple, IDP’s Camp’’. He had alluded to the fact that the Nigerian President has directed the Law Enforcement agencies to do everything within their powers to fish out the perpetrators of these heinous acts and their sponsors and bring them out to Justice.
Many expect Usman Alkali Baba, the Yobe state born acting Inspector of General of Police, who was said to be the immediate Deputy Inspector General , of the Force criminal Investigation Department, FCID, to engage the services of the Police IRT, used in fishing out the Awomama Headquarters of the Court Proscribed IPOD and their armed Wind, ESN, to get the Benue killers.
A recent Statement made by Matawalle Bello, governor of the embattled Zamfara state in the north west Nigeria, that those sponsoring the Bandits in the bushes to carry out their attacks in the villages are living in the Cities should serve as a guide to the Police IGP and his men to fish out the Benue Killers and save the country from such future embarrassments.