Relief for military veterans as Buhari approves N134b debarment allowance
Relief has come the way of Nigerian military veterans as President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday in Abuja announced the approval of N134.7 billion for the payment of their Security Debarment Allowance (SDA).
The Debarment Allowance is meant to debar retired servicemen from deploying skills acquired during their service period in the military against the Nigerian State, except in the National interest.
The President also announced the donation of N10 million to the Nigerian Legion, on behalf of the Federal Government, at the launch of the 2023 Armed Forces Remembrance Day Emblem and Appeal fund.
This is coming after the Military veterans under the aegis of the Retired Members of Nigerian Armed Forces and the Coalition of Concerned Military Veterans recently staged the third phase of their protests over the non-payment of the Security Debarment Allowance, among others, at the Ministry of Defence, in Abuja.
Recall that the protesters had blocked the Ministry of Defence located at Ship House on the Olusegun Obasanjo Way in the country’s capital city.
The retired military men had, similarly, in January this year picketed the ministries of finance, defence, and the National Assembly earlier in the pursuit of the same demand.
The development prompted the federal government to appeal to the protesting veterans for more time.
Specifically, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Defence, Dr Ibrahim Abubakar Kana had addressed the former military officers in Abuja, where he debunked the allegation that the funds had been released by the authorities but payment was delayed by the ministry.
However, speaking at the occasion, which preceded the meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC), yesterday, the President pledged the Federal Government’s commitment to the welfare of veterans by ensuring prompt payment of their pension and other entitlements, which had been demonstrated by his approval of the payment of SDA to veterans with effect from 2017.
“However, in order to capture all veterans hitherto excluded from the payment of the SDA, I have approved a review of the effective date of the Manual of Financial Administration for the Armed Forces of Nigeria (MAFA) 2017.
“Accordingly, I have also approved the sum of One Hundred and Thirty-Four Billion, Seven Hundred and Forty-Nine Million, Nine Hundred and Fifty-Three Thousand, Two Hundred and Forty-Three Naira, Sixty-Nine Kobo (N134,749,953,243.69) only for that purpose.”
President Buhari also expressed delight that the Defence Health Maintenance Limited is living up to expectation in providing healthcare services to the veterans, noting the expansion of the reach of their services through the establishment of Zonal and State offices.
He promised that government would continue to prioritise the provision of quality healthcare services to veterans and citizens at large.
The President also used the occasion to commend the efforts of the Nigerian Armed Forces in confronting banditry, kidnappings, molestations and killing of innocent citizens head-on, saying that these ”vices alien to our culture” are on the decline.
He also noted that normalcy is gradually returning to some affected parts of the country due to the methodical approach and increasing military campaign to decimate subversive elements involved in destructive activities such as “in the insurgency in North East, militancy in the Niger Delta” as well as ethnic and religious tensions in some communities.
He assured Nigerians that his Government will continue to reposition and strengthen all security agencies to enable them surmount the security challenges in the country.
He called on business enterprises to appreciate the sacrifice of servicemen and gallant troops by extending support to them in form of discounts and rebates upon purchases and services rendered, saying this would act as a morale booster to members of the Armed Forces and assist them in carrying out their statutory responsibilities.
President Buhari reiterated that he will hand over a Nigeria that is free from insecurity to the next generation of leaders.
He expressed confidence that with the gallantry and sacrifices exhibited by men and women of the Armed Forces in the campaign against insurgency and other Internal Security Operations, the nation will be returned to normalcy as we continue to battle decisively, all the security challenges.
The President commended Governors who are Patrons of Veterans in their respective States for their support of the Nigerian Legion.