The Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar has urged the House Committee on Air Force to allocate more funds to carter for the running of newly established units of the force.
Abubakar made the plea on Friday while presenting the 2020 budget performance and defending the 2021 budget before the committee in Abuja.
The chief said that in spite of the expansion in the force with the creation of 11 new units, not much had changed in the overhead allocation.
He said that the force established additional 11 units in Benue, Taraba, Damaturu, Platatue, Osun, Kaduna among others.
According to Abubakar, the running cost of all these units is weighing heavily on the Air Force and that is why we are soliciting for increase in the overhead.
“In terms of personnel, the Air Force has about 11,000 personnel and right now, we are recruiting another 1000 and it is huge if you look at the infrastructure.
“If you look at the aircraft we have acquired, we are expecting 17 more; in addition to that, we are hoping to get three Special Mission aircraft under the Deep Blue project under the Federal Ministry of Transport.
“We expecting eight UABs from China; so with all these, the number of personnel will increase and the expansion of the units, the overhead is grossly inadequate,” he said.
Speaking on the budget performance, Abubakar said that for the 2020 budget, the sum of N136.4 billion was appropriated for operations of NAF.
Abubakar said that of the N106 billion allocated for personnel emoluments, N83 per cent had been released to the force.
The chief said that N8.8 billion was earmarked for overhead expenditures and 65 per cent had been released.
He said that N26.9 billion was allocated for capital expenditures and that 97 per cent had also been released to the force.
On the 2021 budget, Abubakar said that the sum of N142 billion had been proposed for the 2021 operations of the agency.
He said that N101.2 billion is for personnel emoluments, N8.8 billion for overhead cost and N39 million is for capital expenditures.
Breaking down the budget, the chief said that the force needed three JF17 Multi Rolls Fighter aircraft from Pakistan and that N17.6 billion was allocated to cover the purchase.
He said that procurement of targeting board for JF17 Thunder Aircraft, the sum of N3.7 billion had been proposed.
He said for the procurement of aircraft and various arms and ammunition, the sum of N650 million was budgeted.
He said for small arms and ammunition, the sum of N150 million had been proposed while acquisition of 3PD-1 Manned Area Systems, stations and associated accessories, N271 million was earmarked.
“The Super Tucano Aircrafts is coming Kainji and the runway there is not in good shape; we did not want to go for contract because the cost will be too much for government.
“We have civil engineers within the Air Force and our works personnel can be mobilised and so we want it to be done by direct labour so we can achieve the repairs of the runway before the arrival of the Super Tucano by second quarter of next year,” he said
Abubakar commended the committee for the support the force enjoys as it carries out its constitutional mandate.
Also, the Commandant, Air Force Institute of Technology Kaduna state, AVM Abdulganiyu Olabisi told the committee that paucity of funds was limiting the institute.
He said that the institute lacks basic infrastructure including good access road urging the committee to increase the capital budget from N99.7 million to four billion naira.
Olabisi said that the increment is to ensure academic excellence by providing hostels, labs and library to meet world standards.
The Chairman of the committee, Rep. Shehu Koko (APC-Kebbi) commended the Federal Government for the funds released to the Air Force.
He said this is the first time the force is enjoying almost a 100 per cent releases of funds, attributing it to the successes recorded by the force in the fight against insecurity.
Koko expressed the satisfaction of the committee over the work done by the force and pledged to do all it takes to ensure more funds are allocated to the force. (NAN)