A personnel of the Nigerian Navy, L S Atona A. has written an open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari, exposing tactical embezzlement of salary by military chiefs.
In the letter, he said that “military generals are not happy with your [Buhari’s] recovery as they wished him dead to enable them continue their fraudulent activities.
According to him, they are not happy “because they are not happy with the prevailing change that is blowing more especially in the military”.
He further stressed that “with this old system of payments, soldiers are not receiving what is due for them as salary and in most cases their due allowances are being denied”.
“In this old system of salary payment,” he wrote, “navy prepared multiple salary vouchers with different figures, the ones that will be going to Federal government records and for public consumption may carry correct figures, but the one going to the bank for personnel accounts the figures are slashed.
“It has been also confirmed that, ex-service chiefs and some retired admirals are enjoying from money deducted from personnel. Therefore full implementation of IPPIS is the only way to stop these criminalities”, he wrote.
Read the letter in full:
OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI AND THE COMMANDER IN CHIEF OF THE ARMED FORCES
It took me years to summon this courage and as a soldier I have to take all risks before writing this letter.
I’m a military man to the core and a serving personnel of the Nigerian Navy to be precise. Not only that, I’m also a die-hard lover of you, Mr President, because of your honesty, integrity, life style and of course leadership style. That’s why I named my new-born baby after your name.
Before I go into the main purpose of this letter, let me also use this opportunity to extend my greetings and personal gratitude to almighty God for your miraculous health recovery, after long medical vacation.
Indeed this miracle comes as a result of prayers by all meaningful Nigerians. But to tell you the truth, most of military generals are not happy with your recovery.
[That is] because they are not happy with the prevailing change that is blowing more especially in the military. I prayed for almighty God continues to bless you and protects you against all harms.
Mr President all is not well, in the Nigerian Armed Forces.
Despites your good intentions and all efforts you are putting in place for the welfare of men, the corrupt generals are still using their ballistic shields to counter your good efforts.
Mr President, soldiers are aware of all good efforts you are making for their welfares. But the generals are our problems. Sir the generals are not happy with your directive for military to switch its personnel pay, to Integrated Payroll and personnel information System IPPIS.
This directive is long overdue since early 2016, but they are just using silly excuses to keep on skipping until government forget about it. They say, “justice delayed, justice denied” that is their plan.
Sir, remember that, this same IPPIS also suffered set back during former president Goodluck Jonathan and the generals used all they could to stop it. But the soldiers believed that, this time around will not die down under your watch Sir.
If Mr President could remember his first jumaat prayer at Niger barracks Abuja after his victory in 2015 election, soldiers were seen jubilating publicly shouting e-payment sir!
Mr President, what soldiers want now is transparent payment system. It’s believes that, with this old system of payments, soldiers are not receiving what is due for them as salary and in most cases their due allowances are being denied.
Sir, this is no longer a hidden thing as it was testified during Former CDS, Alex Bade case. The truth is Alex bade is the only suspect for now, but this practice is still going on in the system, particularly in the Navy.
In this old system of salary payment, navy prepared multiple salary vouchers with different figures, the ones that will be going to Federal government records and for public consumption may carried correct figures, but the one going to the bank for personnel accounts the figures are slashed.
It has been also confirmed that, ex-service chiefs and some retired admirals are enjoying from money deducted from personnel. Therefore full implementation of IPPIS is the only way to stop these criminalities sir.
Mr President, even though all is not well in Nigerian military, it will be wrong for me to paint all the generals black, because there are exceptional.
So far so good, the administration of Nigerian Air Force remains the best and the present Chief of Air staff, Air chief marshal Sadiq Abubakar is the best so far among the generals. He’s a good man and truly he is an agent of change and welfare of his men remains his priority, may God will continue to bless him.
At the time when Air Force reduces the primary and secondary school’s fees for its personnel children, that was the time when Navy increases its school fees.
So far Nigerian Navy primary and secondary school remains the most expensive school in the Armed Forces.
The way Navy personnel are removing their children from Navy schools to other schools is becoming alarming, because they cannot afford to bear exorbitant fees.
My question is: is Navy remitting all these money gathered as school fees back to the Federal government account?
If not, then some people have turned Navy (government) schools into private again venture. Because all the teachers are either Navy personnel who are from education department, or civilian teachers who are under ministry of Defence.
And the schools also are being funded and maintained by government, so why Navy personnel is paying these exorbitant fees?
Mr President, your recent meeting with service chiefs gives soldiers hope that good things are about to unveil in the military. I learned that one the of the thing that you keep on emphasising during the meeting was the welfare of the men and for that, I learned that you have approved the amendment of harmonised Armed forces terms and conditions of service for both officers and men for good.
I’m happy that, retirement benefits is going to be upgraded from the present bondage. Sir if that is achieved, your name will becomes immortalised in the hearts of all soldiers.
Because when I see my seniors that retired in a critical conditions, I always shed tears, because I know sooner or later I shall be in their shoes.
Sir, presently most retirees can’t afford to own a house, after serving the country for more than thirty years ended of retiring in the rent houses.
That is why you see soldiers of now a days going in to illegalities just to secure their future by themselves, since the service cannot secure for them. And because this compromised, that is why we have lapses in the security all over the country.
Now instead of soldier to be strict on his duty but due to the circumstance he found himself, he becomes bribe addicted and partaker of crimes that he suppose to fight or prevents.
Sir, what one soldier in Maiduguri operation said, in his open letter to you recently was very correct and all what he said is still existing across all military operations in the country.
Sir, to serve as a guide, I request you demand the copy of 2010 HTACOS that was promulgated by former Chief of Defence Staff, Air chief marshal Paul Dike.
That HTCOS really takes care of retirement benefits for more especially the men (other ranks). Officers were not happy about it and that’s why they amended the it immediately after he left service.
Mr President, there’s one demoralizing statement that is very common in the military particularly among the officers, more especially commanding officers that are entrusted with the entitlements of men under them as they used to say it without fear or pity that, soldier is just a slave for officers and therefore soldier is not entitled for allowance it is a “privilege”.
That means, the commanding officer only pay his men their allowances when he feels like and If he like he eats it, no soldier can dare to ask him question after all they are slaves.
That’s what is happening in the military formations sir and that is why don’t want this IPPIS to come to play, because generally officers are feeding from men’s sweats.
Finally, I learned that Mr President is about to reshuffle his ministerial cabinet, I pray that reshuffling will affect defence military too because we need a defence minister that is more vibrant, corrupt free and must be an agent of change.
Soldiers will not forget Alhaji Yayale Ahmed for his efforts and contributions towards sanitizing military, when he was a defence minister during late former president Musa Yar’adua regime.
Even though Yayele didn’t last long on that position, but actions were seen clearly as he shunned corruption to nearly standstill, until after he left business as usual returned.
This is the type of minister we want, not follow-follow or chop I chop minister.
Mr President, let me also recommend an outstanding general of all kind who was also loved by all personnel across the tri-service. He was chief Air staff in 2006, and later appointed as Chief of Defense Staff in 2008, and he then retired in 2010.
Former CDS Air Chief Staff Paul Dike was a shining star during that time, because he was a good man, simple but not compromised when it comes to service ethics and welfare of the men.
Most of the transformations and infrastructures that we see in the Armed Forces now, are initiated by him. May almighty God continues to bless him where ever he is now.
This is the type of retired General that deserves to be honored, how I wish he should be named as a defence minister in your new cabinet Sir.
I know my letter may be not pleasant to the unrepentant vampires that are disguising in uniforms and I believe they will continue to witch-hunt me, just like the way they pursuit Late Rear Admiral Ikoli to his early grave.
But that will not scare me, I have done what I ought to do as a good citizen of Nigeria. This is just a beginning and I promise to write more letters, if this first letter is welcome by you, sir.
God bless the President, and the commander in chief of the federal republic of Nigeria.
God bless Nigerian Armed Forces.
God bless Nigeria.
L S Atona A
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