We over funded operation Lafiya Dole – FG

The federal government declared Tuesday that it has over funded Operation Lafiya Dole fighting insurgency in the North-east.

Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, who stated this while appearing before the Senate Committee on Army, said apart from the usual budgetary provisions for the operation, additional requests were made by the military through the president which were approved and cash-backed.

There have been insinuations that the Nigeria Army is not getting proper funding to execute the war against insurgency.

Last week, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Army, Senator Ali Ndume (APC Borno South), made reference to a letter written by the Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor that the Operation Lafiya Dole is underfunded, which led to shortfall of about N50 billion.

He asked the Senate, through it committee on army to intervene over the funding of the military.

But making submission before the committee during an interface on Tuesday, the minister of finance said they have over funded the Operation Lafiya Dole in the North-east.

The finance minister said the president prioritises funding of the security agencies, adding that their funding is hundred per cent.

“The funding of the Operation Lafiya Dole is 100 per cent. Apart from the budget, some of the military officials always meet the president with additional requests which were given expressed approval through required cash backing.

She said: “In 2019, N75 billion was budgeted for the Operation Lafiya Dole but we ended up spending N82.61 billion. N75 billion was what was budgeted for the operation but we ended up paying over N110 percent.

“In 2019 what was budgeted for the Nigerian Army was N19.6 billion and N12.84 billion was released representing 64.37 per cent.

“In 2020 the total capital budget for the Nigerian Army was N34.37 bilion and this amount was released 100 per cent.

“In 2021, that is this current year, the total budget for the Nigerian Army is N29billion as at April, we have released N17.98billion of that which is 68.92 per cent. It means we are on course to also release 100 per cent.

“There was an 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 Overhead for the Nigerian Army was N15.64billion out of which we released N14.299 billion representing 91.01 per cent.

“In 2020, what was budgeted for overhead was N20.634billion and N20.471 billion was released representing 99.21 per cent.

“In 2021, which is the current year, the total budget for the year is N20.63 billion and three months releases that we have done so far on overhead totaling N4.99billion representing 96.75 per cent of the prorated budget for the three months because the year is still running.

“Apart from the releases that were directly done in the budget by adjustment for the minimum wage, there was also an additional release of N45.195billion from the Public Service wide adjustment also meant to be augmentation of salaries due to the shortfall in the budget. You remember in 2019, when the budget was passed, the consequential adjustment negotiations were not concluded. So, we have had to make those adjustments.

“So the total releases to the Nigerian Army was N282.61billion, representing 146 per cent over what was initially planned in the budget.

“In the year 2020, what was budgeted as Personnel was N408.39 billion and out of that, we have released N399.18billion representing 97.74 per cent of the budget. In 2021, we are on course with total released now averaging 96.46 per cent of the four months that we have already funded the Nigerian Army”.