From Mustapha Isah Kwaru, Maiduguri.
President Goodluck Jonathan and the Nigerian Army have, by their recent remarks, vindicated Governor of Borno state, Kashim Shettima, who was vilified by the presidency spokesmen after he first raised the alarm that the military was lacking the right equipment to fight the Boko Haram terrorists in the North-East.
A member of the House of Representatives, representing Monguno, Marte and Nganzai Federal Constituency of Borno state, Mohammed Tahir Monguno made the observation, in a statement yesterday.
“I expect the Presidency’s spokesmen, like Dr. Doyin Okupe, to be humble and courageous enough to tender open apology to Governor Shettima for wrongly attacking his reputation some months back. They should also apologize to Borno people for not taking the right step earlier”, the statement said.
It added: “I was particularly drawn by the lead story of the Daily Trust Newspapers of Friday, June 6, 2014, with the caption: ‘Military wares issues being handled’, Jonathan says, which reported the President saying he was tackling the problems of inadequate equipment for the military, which to every Nigerian, is clear admittance of the first alarm raised by Governor Kashim Shettima some time ago and which led to unwarranted attacks on the Governor by spokesmen from the Presidency and indeed the President himself at his media chat around that period.
The fact that the Presidency didn’t deny that Daily Trust report since Friday means there is no question about it. The representative also referred to the same report which claimed that “the National Security Adviser had briefed and told national leadership of the ruling PDP that the military was lacking the right equipment to contain the Boko Haram fighters and again, this aspect hasn’t been disputed by the NSA”
Monguno also said in the statement that: “Even before the President admitted the true situation on Friday, the head of the Nigerian Army’s account and budget, Major General Abdullahi Muraina was quoted by the media on May 22,2014, at a press conference in Jaji military cantonment in Kaduna State, lamenting that the Army was being poorly funded by the Federal Government citing that allocations being made in successive budgetary allocations were not enough to equip troops deployed to the northeast to fight insurgency.
To quote General Muraina, he said “Currently, budgetary allocation for the military is inadequate to meet the contemporary security challenges and also cater for the welfare of the Nigerian Army. 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. Currently, budgetary allocation for the military is inadequate to meet the contemporary security challenges and also cater for the welfare of the Nigerian Army”.
The legislator also said he had read other reports claiming that the military had complained to Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala that there were instances they were being frustrated by officials of the Federal Government, which causes hindrances to accessing funds.
All these, he noted, points to one direction, “which is, Governor Kashim Shettima was right that the military was not well-equipped and motivated and this means he has been vindicated”, the statement concluded.