• Wednesday, June 12, 2024
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BusinessDay

How govt agencies got N112bn for projects outside their mandate

Buhari seeks Reps’ approval of FCT 2023 budget proposal

A new report by BudgIT, a civic organisation focused on making the Nigerian budget and public data more comprehensible and accessible, has shown projects worth over N112 billion in the 2023 budget were allocated to agencies outside their mandate.

According to BudgIT, through its service delivery promotion platform, Tracka, these infractions in the 2023 approved budget are capable of distorting transparency and accountability in Nigeria’s public finance.

For instance, findings showed the Nigerian Army got N4.58 billion for the construction of Dengi-Kwalmiya-Gagdi-Wawus Bauchi Road in Plateau State.

The Nigerian Institute of Oceanography and Marine Research was assigned N1.25 billion across four projects to supply medical equipment to health centres in Ogun State.

Another government agency, Oil and Gas Free Zones Authority in Nigeria, got the sum of N1.1 billion for the construction/provision of perimeter fencing and access road of liberty free in Akwa-Ibom State.

Ayomide Ladipo, acting head of Tracka, expressed her displeasure over the development.

He said the implications of assigning projects to agencies out of their mandate is that “it undermines monitoring, evaluation, and the sustainability of these projects”.

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“These agencies lack the expertise and personnel to ensure quality service delivery of these projects, leading to projects under-delivery and a colossal waste of taxpayers’ money and scarce resources,” Ladipo said.

BudgIT report also showed the Nigerian Institute of Oceanography and Marine Research was assigned N1.25 billion across four projects to supply medical equipment to health centres in Ogun State.

Similarly, the Office of Merit Award got an approved sum of N500 million for the supply of hospital equipment and sporting skits to the Marang community in Bauchi state.

The Nigeria Stored Product Research, Ilorin was allocated N500 million for the supply of tricycles to youths in Adamawa State, among many others.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) was allocated N200 million to construct solar streetlights in Rivers State.

“What business does NAN have with streetlights?” Lapipo asked.

Tracka also discovered the government made a total of N10 billion to the personal accounts of 18 individuals in 2022.

BusinessDay’s findings showed these payments are a clear violation of section 713 of the Public Sector Financial Regulations, 2009, which says; “Personal money shall in no circumstances be – paid into a government bank account, nor shall any public money be paid into a private bank account. An officer who pays public money into a private account is deemed to have done so with fraudulent intention”.

BudgIT said N81.7 billion was allocated to the construction of solar streetlights in the 2023 federal capital and constituency projects.

This, according to the organisation, is higher than the total allocation to schools and primary health centres, which gulp N77.9 billion and N3.1 billion, respectively, in the budget.

“In 2022, a UNESCO report tagged Nigeria’s out-of-school children figure at 20 million, a staggering 52 percent increase from the 10.5 million reported by UNICEF in 2020,” the statement reads.

However, Tracka noted that there is a 21 percent reduction in the percentage of empowerment projects in 2023 compared to last year.

For instance, a total of N58 billion out of N100 billion was allocated to empowerment projects in 2022, while N37 billion out of N100 billion was earmarked for the same purpose in the budget 2023.