The Nigeria Army yesterday made a passionate appeal to Nigerians not to destroy the military as it makes concerted effort to stem the tide of Boko Haram insurgency in the country particularly in the North-east region.
It also said the resources at its disposal arenot enough to combat the current security challenges confronting the nation.
This came as the federal government said distractions occasioned by the violent activities of Boko Haram cannot stop the nation from marking 15 years of the return to democracy billed for May, 29.
The Director of Army Public Relations, Brig-Gen. Olajide Laleye, disclosed this in Abuja at the monthly briefing of the activities of the army in the North-east region.
He said: “It has been observed lately that the Nigerian Army has been under a deliberate and concerted effort by some individuals, bodies and organisations to tarnish its good image which so far has remained the pride of the nation
“These group and their international collaborators are trying hard to portray the Nigerian military as corrupt with myriad of problems and challenges ranging from morale of troops, equipment and troops welfare.”
Laleye stated that the campaigns are calculated to undermine the numerous achievements and corporate existence of the army, adding that the army as one of the binding forces of the unity of the country, was far from being weak and ineffective.
He noted that isolated cases, which normally occur during operations as the one in the North-east should not be taken as the norm, stressing that such operational cases occur elsewhere, citing the case of Iraq and Afghanistan.
The army spokesman said the alleged activities of few faceless individuals do not serve national interest at a time when concerted efforts are required from all patriotic Nigerians to defeat terrorism.
He explained that the army was steadily reversing the ugly menace of terrorism, noting that it would continue to perform its duties without being deterred by the necessary distractions by demeaning individuals.
Meanwhile, the army’s Chief of Account and Budget, Major General Abdullahi Muraina, while speaking at the opening of the 2014 training week of the Nigerian Army Finance Corps (NAFC) for Warrant Officer/Senior Non-Commissioned Officers at Jaji, Kaduna State, said the current budgetary allocation to the military was inadequate to meet the contemporary security challenges and also cater for the welfare of the army.
According him, “on funding, apart from the limitations of envelope system, the Nigerian Army is enmeshed in the bureaucratic bottlenecks for the funding approvals for military operations. This calls for a review as the increasing speed at which the effects of conflict appear in the operational environment will continue to challenge commanders.”
He stated that “currently, budgetary allocation for the military is inadequate to meet the contemporary security challenges and also cater for the welfare of the army.
Muraina explained to journalists in an interview that “for instance, the army budget for this year is just N4.8billion. Now, to provide only one item for the troops engaged in the operation in the North-east. Assuming we committed 20,000 troops, the jacket and the helmet is in the average of about $1,000, if you change that to naira, it is about N150,000. If you now have about 20,000 troops, this means, they are going to spend about $20million and that is about N3billion. N3billion as a percentage of N4.8billion which is the capital budget for this year is more than 50 per cent and that is just one item. We are not talking about uniforms, we are not talking about boots, we are not talking about structures where they will stay, we are not talking about training, because training is key to enhancing the capability of the force.”
Laleye revealed that as part of manpower recruitment into the army, the military had commenced a recruitment exercise of qualified able-bodied men into the army and would close June 21 this year, stressing that those recruited would be trained after which they would form part of the force to undertake campaign in the North-east region.
However, activities had been mapped out for the Jonathan administration to showcase its achievements in the last four years.
The Minister of Information, Labaran Maku disclosed this while briefing State House correspondents the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting.
Maku said May, 29 was the third anniversary of Jonathan’s election and the last before next year’s general elections.
According to him, in spite of distractions by the terrorists aimed at making the country lose confidence in itself and democracy, remarkable achievements had been achieved.
The minister told journalists that the programmes for Democracy Day was being organised by the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, and it would showcase the achievements of the administration in the last four years.
He added that Ministry of Information was undertaking sectoral documentaries in all aspects of the nation’s development in the last four years.
He further explained that the documentaries would be translated in local languages and aired across the country.
Maku equally disclosed that the 2014 edition of the ministerial platform which is the final edition before the general elections would return in June, and will show graphic pictures of achievements of the administration sector by sector.