There is presently anger among Nigerian Army personnel as they lament that the Federal Government has yet to pay their April salaries amidst the ongoing Eid-el-Fitri celebrations nationwide.
Some of the soldiers currently fighting insurgency, banditry, terrorism and other crimes across Nigeria spoke with SaharaReporters, saying they are unhappy that the Nigerian Government refused to pay them their April 2022 salaries.
This development they say goes to show how insensitive the government and their superiors are to their huge sacrifices to the nation.
“We don’t know how the Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari, and the military hierarchy could sleep freely at night in their cozy beds while we are out in the streets hungry with our families even during festivities,” one of them lamented.
However, some senior officers of the Finance Corps of the military said the non-payment of the April 2022 salaries of troops was not the fault of the military. According to them, the military authorities did not receive funds from the government until 28 April, 2022.
According to the pay officers, they had sent salary schedules with mandates to the Central Bank of Nigeria on the same 28 April, 2022 in anticipation of receipt of the funds. Unfortunately, the CBN was unable to effect the payment of salaries to Nigerian soldiers on 28 April, 2022 because the bank claimed its e-payment platform was down.
The senior paymaster that spoke said that representatives of the military remained in CBN till almost 11 pm on 28 and 29th April, 2022, hoping that the bank’s platform will come up to effect payment of troops’ salaries before Sallah.
Regrettably, CBN’s IT department informed the military paymasters around 9pm on 29 April, 2022 that the platform was not responding to all the troubleshooting that they did and as such there was nothing they could do.
“Against all entreaties by our representatives to the CBN staff to tarry a bit or continue on Saturday, April 30, 2022 noting that it was better late than never at least, the CBN staff would not listen and promised to continue on Wednesday 4th April, 2022 after the holiday.
“There was nothing we could do under the circumstance since it was Federal Government’s directive under TSA to all Government Ministries, Agencies and Departments; including the military to domicile their accounts with the CBN and effect all payments inclusive of salaries through the CBN,” one of the military account officers said.
They concluded that they had notified their respective Service Headquarters of the development accordingly.
Despite the explanation, most of the soldiers are unconvinced about the seriousness of the government and their superiors to their welfare. They wondered why and how a responsible Government bank like CBN that is aware of current security challenges in the country will joke with soldiers’ welfare.
Speaking further, the soldiers demanded that the government investigates the CBN’s blunder and sanction whoever was responsible appropriately.
“Whatever is the case, Nigerian soldiers that are currently bearing the brunt of pervasive insecurity in the country deserve better treatment. Government should have anticipated that some of the soldiers are Muslims and have been observing the Ramadan fasting even while deployed in the frontlines.
“They should have anticipated that their April 2022 salaries would be paid on time to enable them to celebrate the Sallah holiday with their families. At least that would have provided temporary succour to the soldiers and boosted their morale,” a source said.
SaharaReporters’ investigation revealed that the personnel cost of the military is released by the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation along with other MDAs after the monthly ritual by FAAC.
Meanwhile, that of the Military Pensions Board comes from the Service Wide vote thereby enabling the Board to receive funds and effect payment of military pensions most of the time even before serving soldiers.
Another official familiar with the matter said, “For example, President Muhammad Buhari as a military pensioner received his April 2022 pensions alongside other military pensioners on 28 April, 2022. There is, therefore, need for the Federal Government to consider prioritizing personnel cost of the Nigerian military because of the importance of salary to an average soldier.
“It is because of the avowed discipline of the Nigerian military that the soldiers remained calm over a sensitive issue like thee monthly salaries that have generated furore elsewhere with dire consequences. Therefore, let us not take our soldiers for granted despite their enormous sacrifices to the nation. Let the CBN Governor ensure that this does not repeat itself and warn his staff to accord payment of salaries of Nigerian soldiers and other security agencies too most priority going forward.
“The CBN ought to have more than one e-payment platform to cater for this type of emergency. Soldiers’ salaries may look trivial to the CBN Governor and his staff but without the soldiers’ sacrifices, there may not be a CBN in the first place let alone a Governor and his nonchalant and unpatriotic staff. Our soldiers deserve better treatment and our respect all the time please.”