…slams National Assembly for budget padding and other corruption loopholes, calls for urgent amendment.
BudgIT, a foremost civic-tech organization leading the advocacy for transparency and accountability in Nigeria’s public finance, has called on the citizens, CSOs, private sector, and the international community to urgently prevail on the National Assembly and the Presidency to amend and eliminate identified loopholes in the 2022 approved budget.
“Our preliminary analysis of the 21,108 capital projects in the 2022 approved budget revealed 460 duplicated projects amounting to N378.9billion.
“Recall that BudgIT observed 316 duplicated projects inserted into the 2021 FG budget approved by NASS. ICPC verified 257 duplications, while the Budget Office confirmed the existence of only 185 duplicated projects worth N20.13bn, after which it informed the public that funds were not released for the projects in 2021.
“Furthermore, BudgIT notes that the occurrence of inflated projects amounting to billions of naira directly linked to the State House and the Presidency is a cause for concern.
“Examples include the N20.8billion requested by the Presidency to construct a 14-bed presidential wing at the existing State House Medical Center, N28.72million requested for the purchase of 2units of 10KG washing machine and 6units of LG Televisions in the State House Lagos Liaison Office, among others.
“Speaking of projects approved under MDAs that do not have the capacity to execute them, The National Agency For Great Green Wall which was set up to prevent land degradation and desertification afflicting 11 states in northern Nigeria, and to boost food security in the country has N1.3billion or 64% of its capital budget dedicated to purchasing motorcycles, street lights and other projects outside its mandate.
“This is disingenuous especially as communities in these states are being ravaged by bandits and terrorists who often arrive in motorcycles.
“Likewise, four (4) recreational parks under the Ministry of Environment, have a total allocation of N67.8million to construct “Gun Armouries” in Cross Rivers, Kaduna, Borno and Yobe states, even though the Ministry of Environment is not a security agency.
“This raises the question – Why is the ministry of environment stashing guns in recreational parks in these states in an election campaign year and at a time when the country is facing unrest in nearly all of the 36 states?
“Nigeria is currently battling double-digit inflation, one of the worst 20 out of 196 countries in the world marked by soaring prices of food, consumer goods, and other services. Unfortunately, the River Basin Development Authorities (RBDA), under the Ministry of Water Resources which was set up to facilitate management of water resources for agriculture that would end the tide of food supply fluctuations that affect food prices, has instead metamorphosed into an agency that constructs roads and supplies street lights.
“A cumulative total of N6.3billion was allocated to supplying street lights in 73 communities across the 36 states, while N14.8billion was allocated for the construction of 219 roads across 36 states; whereas the majority of the roads are the responsibilities of State and Local governments and not the Federal Government”, it said.
Gabriel Okeowo, BudgIT’s Country Director, added: “The loopholes for fraud in the 2022 FG budget is a crime against the 86million Nigerians living below the poverty line, an injustice to hardworking taxpayers and an open mockery of countries and lending institutions that intend to borrow NigeriaN6.29trillion in 2022.”
“BudgIT is currently finalising its detailed analysis of the approved FG 2022 budget which would be presented to all stakeholders in the executive and legislative arm of government as well as the general citizens.
“In the meantime, we call on the government to prioritise projects that are of utmost benefit and exercise discipline in implementing duplicated and poorly costed projects in the 2022 budget.
“We also enjoin all Nigerians, CSOs, the private sector, the international community, and reformers to join the call for an urgent redress of these issues to ensure public funds work for all Nigerians and not for a privileged few politicians.”