OrderPaperToday – Chairman Senate Committee on Army, Senator Ali Ndume, has decried the allocation of N100 billion for defence in the 2020 budget, describing it as too meagre considering the enormous security challenges the country is faced with.
Speaking during the 2020 budget debate at the Senate on Tuesday, Ndume noted that the primary responsibility of government is security and welfare of citizens.
“Budgeting N100 billion out of a budget of 10.3 trillion is grossly inadequate,” he said before further lamenting that only N30 billion was allocated to the North East Development Commission (NEDC) to tackle humanitarian crises caused by insurgency compared to N140 billion so far spent by foreign donors.
Senator Ndume then called on the Senate to ensure more funding for the security sector in the 2020 budget for the purchase of weapons, combat helicopters, and kits.
Shortly after his contribution on the floor of the Senate, Ndume addressed journalists and lifted the lid on the enormity of the insurgency problem following his recent tour of Borno state alongside members of the Committee on Army.
He revealed that according to the military records, over 847 soldiers have been killed and buried in the last 6 years in one commentary alone. Ndume however dismissed rumours that soldiers were buried secretly and praised the commitment and patriotism of the Armed Forces.
According to him, “we went to the cemetery to see for ourselves and ask questions. We went to see what they have on ground, we went to the hospitals.
“The commitment of the Armed Forces to this country is unparalleled. For the conditions they find themselves and still decide to sacrifice their lives for the country, it is commendable.
“They (insurgents) do not only attack civilians but the military as well. So far, from the record we saw in the cemetery, I think we lost over 847 soldiers and that is in that cemetery alone, from 2013 till date. Just so you know, they have cemeteries elsewhere where they bury the dead.
“However, the allegation of mass burial is not true. Nigerians don’t do that. Nigerian army will never do that. In fact, if any of them (soldier) is missing, they go out to search and get the person before declaring whether or not he is dead and even if he is dead, they make attempts to retrieve the body”.
The Senator concluded by stating that the Senate would investigate allegations that the some Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in the North east are conniving with the insurgents by providing them information and logistics in addition to receiving monetary rewards for negotiating for the release of captives.
“I have been critical about this and people have told me to be careful but it has come out now that one or two of the so called NGOs operating there are actually aiding, abetting and supporting the insurgents but we will do an investigation.
“So far, we have evidence, we just want to make it credible. The evidences are there and the common questions are there”.