By Sumaila Ogbaje, Abuja.
Dr Ibrahim Kana, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Defence, on Thursday in Abuja commended President Muhammadu Buhari for approving payment of Security Debarment Allowance (SDA) to eligible retirees of the Nigerian Armed Forces.
Security Debarment Allowance is allowance paid to retired military personnel to discourage them from using the skills they acquired while in service against the government.
More than 90,000 military retirees, who retired before 2017, were originally not among those to benefit from the allowance.
The rationale behind their exclusion, according to the Minister of Defence, retired Maj.-Gen. Bashir Magashi, was that personnel who retired before the law was signed were not entitled to the allowance.
The affected retired military personnel embarked on a series of protests in the last two years to demand the payment of the allowance.
During the inauguration of the 2023 Armed Forces Remembrance Day Emblem and Appeal Fund, President Buhari said that he had approved N134.7 billion for the payment of the allowance to all military veterans.
The Military Pensions Board announced the commencement of payment of the first and second tranches of the SDA to eligible retirees and next-of-kin of deceased personnel on Thursday.
A spokesperson of the Ministry of Defence, Mrs Victoria Agba-Attah, stated on Thursday that the permanent secretary made the commendation at a meeting with the veterans in Abuja.
Kana confirmed the release of N21 billion, being 28 per cent of the total outstanding SDA approved by President Buhari to the ministry as the first tranche.
He said that it was in fulfilment of the promise made by government in September 2022 that payment of the SDA to veterans would start as soon as possible.
The permanent secretary said that the government had demonstrated its commitment to the welfare and wellbeing of members of the armed forces by making the funds available.
He noted that the president had also directed that the spread of 100-per-cent payment of the SDA should be completed within three years.
Kana also commended Magashi and the Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, for the passion they demonstrated in promoting the welfare and wellbeing of Nigerian veterans.
Responding at the meeting, leader of the delegation of veterans, retired Air Commodore Femi Oguntuyi thanked the permanent secretary for his efforts.
Oguntuyi also extolled the Federal Government for its prompt response to the plight of ex-servicemen.