The Army Committee of the House of Representatives has requested President Muhammadu Buhari to declare bandits terrorists so that the Nigerian Armed Forces may effectively combat them.
When the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Farouk Yahaya, appeared before the committee on Friday in Abuja to defend the budget proposal for 2022, the committee’s Chairman, Abdulrazak Namdas, made the call.
The committee was pressing Buhari to take action within 24 hours for the second time.
The House had asked Buhari to declare bandits who have ruled the North-West and sections of the North-Central geopolitical zones, as well as their sponsors, as terrorists on September 30, 2021, a day after the Senate passed the resolution.
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The lawmakers made the demand earlier on Thursday when the Nigerian Army’s Training and Doctrine Command visited Minna, Niger State, for budget defence.
“My committee members have said I should repeat what I said yesterday before TRADOC, that they are a training institution, and we charge them to train more on terrorism and banditry because these are challenging issues,” Namdas said in his welcome address on Friday.
“That is the main reason why we passed a resolution in the National Assembly – both the House and the Senate – urging the President to designate bandits as terrorists as well so that the Army can face the challenge head-on.” We are aware that some conditions are causing technical difficulties with the operation of our technology at the present.
“At the very least, we implore the President to sign this, because banditry is becoming increasingly sophisticated – even more so than what is occurring in the North-East.”
Namdas also noted that the Nigerian Army’s morale was low in terms of accommodation, emphasising that they could only be the best if they were psychologically stable.
“We hope that the Armed Forces Fund Bill, which is currently awaiting Senate concurrence and will be signed by the President once passed, will assist in addressing some of these major challenges,” he said.
Namdas, speaking to journalists following the closed-door session, criticised the sum provided to the Nigerian Army for capital spending in the 2022 Appropriation Bill as insufficient.
“In 2021, the capital (expenditure) was N29 billion; today, in 2022, it is N28 billion,” he said. As a result, instead of rising, it is falling. In reality, the sum is insignificant. We must sit down and discuss how we can assist the Army in moving forward.
“Agreed, we’ve done enough in the supplementary budget, but the capital component for the entire fiscal year 2022 is N28 billion.” We won’t be able to accomplish anything with the funds.”
“Another challenge we face is that you have to place an order even if you have 100% of the money on the ground,” Namdas continued. Army equipment isn’t something you can just pick up off the shelf.
“How long did it take you to get here after you placed your Tucanos order?” Even if your budget this year and go verify certain items, you will not see them right away because they are delivered according to the schedule that is allowed.”
Before the closed-door discussion, Yahaya, who observed that it was his first time officially defending the Nigerian Army’s budget in front of the committee, said the previous two years had been “indeed challenging,” particularly owing to the coronavirus outbreak.
While the Nigerian Army submitted a budget of almost N710 billion for 2022, the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget, and National Planning’s budget ceiling cut it to N579 billion, according to the COAS.
Meanwhile, sources Within the House of Representatives, said if President Muhammadu Buhari fails to declare Bandits as Terrorists, the House will commence the impeachment process.