Aggrieved soldiers of the Nigerian Army are calling for a probe of how their Uniform and Boots Allowance and Scarce Skills Allowance approved by President Muhammadu Buhari since November 2017 have not been paid by the army authorities, then under the former Chief of the Army Staff, Lt Gen Tukur Buratai (retd.).
The soldiers stated that their allowances for the past four years have been either unpaid or underpaid by the army authorities without any explanation, urging the president to order the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission as well as the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission to probe what happened to the monies.
SaharaReporters obtained a copy of the Manual of Financial Administration for the Armed Forces of Nigeria 2017, which is the official document spelling out the allowances of the military personnel, which was approved by President Buhari on November 9, 2017.
“The MAFA contains details of allowances and other financial entitlements of personnel in service and on retirement. It also provides guidelines for financial planning that ensures effective and efficient financial management. Consequently, the Armed Forces Council approved the implement of the MAFA with effect from Novermber 9, 2017,” Buhari had stated and signed.
Checks by SaharaReporters into the MAFA indicated that the Scarce Skill Allowance is N100,000 for all military personnel “irrespective of rank.”
There are also other allowances such as qualification allowance, recall/debarment from annual leave allowance, terminal leave allowance, uniform/boot allowance, and compassionate leave allowance.
Some of the soldiers speaking with SaharaReporters stated that the Scarce Skill allowances had not been paid since 2017 – under Buratai until last year when the sums of N20,000 and N30,000 were paid to some personnel – far below the N100,000 contained in the MAFA document.
The soldiers noted that an independent probe by the EFCC and ICPC would unravel the top officers under Buratai who mismanaged the allowances and had been short-changing the military payment system.
“Our scarce skills allowance is supposed to be N100,000 as approved by the President in 2017 but the army authorities commenced its payment only in 2020 and paid Private to Corporal – N20,000, Sergeant and Staff Sergeant – N25,000, Warrant Officer and Master Warrant Officer N N30,000. There is non-payment of our uniform and boot allowances. We are calling on the President to invite the EFCC and the ICPC to investigate why the money was not paid since 2017 and why we are currently being short paid,” one of the soldiers stated.
“The Senate and House of Representatives Committees on Army should probe the army high command on the salary, allowances, scarce skills allowance, uniform and boot allowance for the past four years and also hold interactive sessions with troops excluding the officers to have first-hand information about the suffering soldiers and what their families are going through. They should also visit several army barracks across the country to see the dilapidated buildings where soldiers and their families live in,” another soldier explained.
SaharaReporters had on Saturday reported that some of the aggrieved soldiers also kicked against the Nigerian Army’s controversial Welfare Housing Scheme.
The soldiers had lamented that they were not duly consulted and the Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Ibrahim Attahiru, brought up the controversial scheme when he assumed office in January 2021.
The soldiers had earlier written a save-our-soul letter to President Buhari over the Nigerian Army’s planned deduction of their salaries to pay for the “fraudulent Nigerian Army Welfare Housing Scheme.”
The soldiers – One sergeant, two corporals, two Lance Corporals and one Private – in the letter obtained by SaharaReporters had noted that the army planned to deduct between N15,000 and N49,000 monthly from their little salaries, which are not able to currently meet their needs.
The personnel said the Non-Commissioned Officers and the Senior Non-Commissioned Officers were the only ones affected and they now find it difficult to feed their family and pay their children school fees “from our meager salaries.”
They demanded that the deductions be stopped by the army authorities.
President Buhari had not commented yet on the development which is causing ripples and unrest among the soldiers of the Nigerian Army.