The Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed has disclosed that the Federal Government has no funds to pay insurance benefits of soldiers who lost their lives in active service.
Answering questions from journalists after the Federal Executive Council meeting today, the minister said government has not paid insurance compensation to families of armed forces personnel who died in service since 2013.
The minister had been asked why her ministry has not funded the Group Life Insurance scheme of armed forces personnel comprising the Army, Navy and Air force who lost their lives since 2018.
Mrs. Zainab said requests for such were not made on time and as such could not be captured in the budget.
Her response: “We received this request. You should also be asking: Why is the 2013 request just coming now?
“We just received it. So, it wasn’t planned for. It wasn’t budgeted for. And this has happened all these years. So it’s this 2021 that this request is coming.
“So, now, we’re left with the work of having to raise money to be able to provide for those families to be paid. And we’re discussing on how we can phase it because it was not provided for in the budget. And then the question you should be asking is: Where has it been kept all this time? Why is the request just coming now?”
There have been reports of agitation in the barracks among relations of service men on account of non-payment of their terminal entitlements including insurance claims.
Many widows cannot relocate their families from the barracks because they are cash-strapped, waiting many years for the Ministry of Defence after filling their claims.
A civil society organisation, The Accountable Leadership for Better Nigeria Initiative, ALBNI, had on Monday sent a petition to the National Assembly asking the lawmakers to probe the failure of the Ministry of Defence to pay life insurance claims to hundreds of widows who have lost their husbands in active service several years after their demise.
“We consider this situation as quite disheartening as it is unjust and demoralizing to the fighting spirit, commitment and effectiveness of the soldiers on the battlefield,” said ALBNI in the petition signed by its executive director, Remi Adebayo.
The organisation made three demands: an investigation by the National Assembly to find out why the Federal Ministry of Finance has delayed the payment of premium for Group Life Insurance of the Armed Forces and thereby delaying the prompt settlement of insurance claims of officers and men who died in service; an inter-face with the Ministry of Defence and the Federal Ministry of Finance to eliminate bottlenecks hampering seamless and prompt disbursements of insurance claims and all benefits due to beneficiaries and next-of-kins of fallen men and officers of the Armed Forces; and a Public Hearing by the National Assembly to address issues causing delay in the processing and disbursement of life insurance claims and other benefits due to members of the armed forces with a view to enthroning best practices in the management of the Armed Forces pensions.