2023 budget: FG allocates N4.8bn to MDAs for projects outside their mandates

A NON-GOVERNMENTAL civic organisation, BudgIT, has uncovered a total of N4.8 billion allocated in the 2023 fiscal budget to some ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) for projects that are outside the scope of their mandates. 

The report revealed that the five institutions implementing these projects are under the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, and the Federal Ministry of Education.

The institutions include the Nigeria Stored Products Research Institute, Ilorin (NSPRI); National Centre for Agricultural Mechanisation, Ilorin (NCAM); National Institute for Construction Technology and Management, Uromi, Edo state (NICTM); Federal Polytechnic, Ukana; and Federal College of Agricultural Produce Inspection and Stored Products Technology, Kano (FCAPT). 

The senior research & policy analyst for BudgIT, Vahyala Kwaga, told The ICIR that most of the projects may not be executed because the wrong institutions were allocated the funds to carry them out. 

“We need to understand that corruption is not a ‘technical’ matter but one that is fundamental to our governance and government.  Not only are monies almost never used for these projects, they are often diverted to other uses or not even released by the Accountant General’s office. 

“This would even lead to poor budget performance because the releases intended by the budget were not even made (though they were ‘saved’) by not disbursing them to these so-called projects outside the mandate of MDAs,” he said.

A look at the projects

The sum of N1.930 billion was allocated to NSPRI in the 2023 budget to carry out seven projects that are against its mandate. 

According to the NSPRI website, the commission conducts research into post-harvest handling and the problems of agricultural commodities, and to fabricate pilot scout post-harvest handling equipment. However, it was assigned projects to construct and install solar street lights in Akko local government area (LGA), Gombe central senatorial district; supply tricycles to youths in Adamawa State; and construct an ultra-modern aquatic market with solar street lights and landscaping in Briyel Ward in Bs Phase 2, among others.

Also, N1.245 billion for 11 projects was budgeted for NCAM. The projects include the procurement of three-in-one solar street lights for security enhancement & community development in Ngorkpala & Aboh-mbaise/Iheaka/Ovoko, support for sporting activities of youths in Bayelsa West senatorial district, and provision of empowerment facilities in Okehi, Kogi state.

By mandate, NCAM was established to mechanise Nigeria’s agriculture by developing simple need-based technology that reduces drudgery, increases farm productivity and improves farmers’ efficiency and income.

FCAPT, a college established to conduct middle-level manpower training in produce inspection and stored products technology for enhanced agricultural development in Nigeria, got a budgetary vote of N60 million to supply classroom desks for primary schools in Ilesha Federal Constituency, Osun State, and the electrification of Akwunda Ikwokwu Ipinu in Obi LGA, Benue state.

NICTM, under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Education, was awarded a total of N1.4 billion to implement seven projects. These include the construction of the Alaro-Iraye-Lasu access road and drainage in Epe, and the rural electrification of selected communities with solar street lights in Yala LGA, Cross River state.  

The institute was established by former president, Goodluck Jonathan, to create knowledge to drive the construction industry via hands-on skill-driven curricula.

The Federal Polytechnic, Ukana, Akwa-Ibom state, was awarded  N160 million to supply sewing machines and salon pieces of equipment to women and youths in Delta state; supply and fix solar lights in Kiru/Bebeji Federal Constituency; and train youths and women on various skills acquisition in Lagos state. 

Failed project implementation

Although there are no laws in Nigeria that fault MDAs for carrying out projects against their mandate, former president, Muhammadu Buhari and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) had condemned the implantation of several constituency projects by the lawmakers.

The ICIR, in its Open Contract Reporting project, had reported many constituency projects poorly implemented or abandoned in local communities. 






     

     

    Vahyala noted that there has never been any consequence for these infractions despite interventions by advocacy groups and the ICPC.

    “Ordinarily, the NASS should alert Nigerians on suspicious budget line items, since they are meant to be the ‘oversight’ body of the government. However, because the MDAs and the NASS are in bed together, there will be no way either of them will work in the interest of the people or ensure savings, value for money and efficiency of government spending,” he said.

    An enterprise promotion and development professional, Celestine Okeke, said that while past administrations failed in controlling these infractions, the onus falls on the current administration to change the narrative.

    “With the removal of fuel subsidy, there should have been a policy document on how the government intends to spend the funds. The removal will free up many funds for the government, but with the absence of a policy document it is difficult to tell what will happen,” Celestine told The ICIR.

    Kehinde Ogunyale tells stories by using data to hold power into account. You can send him a mail at [email protected] or Twitter: Prof_KennyJames

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