Budget Figures Show Nigeria Is Not Serious About Fighting Corruption

An analytical report of dwindling federal allocations to anti-corruption agencies in the last four years shows the current administration’s much publicized war on graft may be a mirage

By Tosin Omoniyi

The figures, put in stark contrast, are embarrassingly telling of the oodluck Jonathan administration’s insincerity in the fight against corruption. For a government that prides itself as being intolerant of corruption, the capital budget of Nigeria’s three key anti-corruption agencies in 2014 which totals N2.5 billion is just a little over the N2 billion allocated to the ministry of Information from SURE –P funds to publicise the interventionist agency’s activities.

And there are even more scandalous figures. For instance, the budget of the three anti-corruption agencies for the last three years has also been less than half – in some cases less than a quarter – of the allocations to the Niger Delta ministry and the Niger Delta Amnesty programme.

In 2012, the three agencies received less than N20 billion as against about N65 billion for the Amnesty Programme and about N60 billion for the Niger Delta ministry.

In 2013, the agencies received even less than the previous year compared to over N60 billion budgeted for the Amnesty Programme and the Niger Delta ministry respectively.

visuals 1                                              Courtesy: CLEEN Foundation

This year, while the lot of the anti-graft agencies has worsened, the allocation to the Niger Delta ministry has shot up to over N111 billion.

Observed the report: “The budget of the three agencies combined is less than half the budget of The Ministry of Niger Delta at N111bn or the N100bn allocated to National Assembly for constituency projects without details on how the funds will be spent.”

Even more laughable, for the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, the forth agency examined, its entire budget of N512m in 2014 is less than the N568m which the ministry of Finance will spend on honorarium and sitting allowances in the same year.

These are some of the mind-boggling findings of the Access Nigeria and Access Sierra Leone project, the initiative of an Accountable Governance for Justice and Security, AGJS, programme aimed at building more accountable institutions in Nigeria and Sierra Leone by enhancing institutional transparency, preventing impunity and reducing transaction cost of transnational organized crime in the two African nations.

The project was embarked upon by a formidable group of civil society organizations including CLEEN Foundation (Nigeria), Partners for Democratic Change (United States), Campaign for Good Governance (Sierra Leone), Institute for War and Peace Reporting (United States) and BudgIT (Nigeria).

In the report, a copy of which was made available to icirnigeria.org, a critique of Nigeria’s readiness to battle the raging scourge of corruption in governance was juxtaposed with an in-depth assessment of 2014 budgetary appropriation for anti-corruption agencies.

The agencies analyzed are the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC,   Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission, ICPC, the Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB, and the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT.

The report expresses reservations about the present government’s seriousness in its much avowed anti-corruption campaign in the light of declining funds being allocated to the agencies.

In the report, which focused on federal allocations in 2011-2014, lack of the necessary expertise, tools and equipment to effectively carry out their mandates was linked to poor funding.

A worrisome decline in funding

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Apart from the warped priority in budgetary allocation, the report also highlighted other worrying trends, observing that the “funding pattern reveals a regression in public funding to these agencies”.

“With the increase in the trends of corruption in the country, it would have been expected that the funding of these agencies would improve over time rather than decline, as the case is presently,” the report further noted.

While the EFCC, for instance, had about N13.8bn allocated to it in the 2011 fiscal year for its operations, funding declined sharply to N10.6bn in 2012 with a further decrease to N9.8bn in 2013. It enjoyed a marginal rise to N10.2bn in 2014.

For the ICPC, funding hovered between N3.6bn in 2011, N4bn in 2012, N4.5bn in 2013 and N4.6bn in 2014

The CCB was allocated about N1.4bn in 2011 and N3.9bn in 2012. It dipped to N2.9bn in 2013 after which it was further reduced to N2.8bn in the current year. In the case of the CCT funding has also wobbled constantly in the past three years. While N359.6m was appropriated for it in 2011, it increased mildly to N461.2m in 2012, N517.1m in 2013 and N512.6m in the current year.

 visuals 2                                                                          Courtesy: CLEEN Foundation

While anti-corruption war may be suffering a setback as a result of poor funding, findings in the report show other ‘more fortunate’ government agencies may not be in the same lurch considering the huge funds allocated for their operations. A comparative study of this was also made in the report in relation to the dwindling funding of anti-corruption agencies.

An analysis of the budget allocation to anti-corruption agencies in 2012-2014 shows that yearly funding for their activities have hovered between N18bn and N18.2bn. This is in sharp contrast with the huge allocations given to other government projects. Over N60bn has been steadily allocated to the Amnesty program of the federal government yearly within the same period. For the Niger-Delta ministry, funding has increased steadily from the initial N60bn in 2012 to a whopping N111.1bn allocated to it in the current fiscal year. Also a sum of N100bn has been allocated to the Special Intervention Project/Constituency Projects in the current year.

‘With approximately 3 million public service workers, the per capita budget expenditure assuming the entire budget of all the agencies were directed to fight corruption would amount to N6,000. This is a huge reflection of the level of underfunding of anti-corruption agencies and reinforced the increasing perception that the government is not committed to the fight against corruption,’ the report asserts.

Recurring capital versus recurrent expenditure albatross

An overview of the report shows the perennial national focus on recurrent expenditure at the expense of capital projects is also evident in the spending pattern of the anti-graft agencies. Even with the paucity of funds allocated to the agencies, their focal point has been more or less on using the funds to cater for recurrent expenditure.

In 2014, out of the total of N18.2bn allocated to all the agencies, N15.6bn would be used for recurrent expenses while just N2.5bn has been set aside for capital projects.

“Substantial parts of the allocations to these agencies are for recurrent expenditure, particularly personnel salaries and emolument. As a result most of the agencies have little or no resources for operational work”.

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For instance, the report notes, the “EFCC will spend 14% of its budget on capital, 19% on overhead and 67% on personnel”, adding that  under overheads, “legal services get the highest votes of N198.5m followed by security votes of N177m while publicity and advertisement is allocated N128m, the same as the cost of fuelling their generators”.

 visuals 3                                                              Courtesy: CLEEN Foundation

The report reasons that “It is not clear how many corruption cases can be handled with a paltry sum N198.5m, when some of the financial scams run in billions of Naira”.

It added also: “A peep into the Ribadu years reveals that in 2009, EFCC’s budget was N26b, while capital votes was N10.3b, then publicity got as much as N500m! Five years later EFFC’s budget has reduced by more than a half.”

It also makes the point that the 2014 EFCC capital votes are mainly administrative in nature and are meant for purchase of computers, security equipment, motor vehicles and furniture with the construction of office buildings gulping the largest share – N1.2 billion – of capital votes

For the ICPC, the case appears drearier. Recurrent expenditure takes 97% of its budget of about 4.5bn in 2014. Interestingly, just three projects within the Federal Capital Territory Authority, FCTA, are nearly equivalent to ICPC’s entire budget for the year – the construction of the Vice President’s residence at N1bn, National Assembly Presiding Officers Guest House at N1.5bn and NASS Complex at another 1.5bn

“ICPC allocations are traditionally skewed as any other ministry. For instance, the agency is expected to use its entire capital budget for the year to purchase office building at N122m while purchase of security equipment gets N10m, training gets N48m and publicity gets N90m,” the report observes.

For the CCB and CCT which have always cited inadequate funds to properly execute their programs, the current year may not be different for them. The report noted that the agencies lack the resources and capacity to verify declaration made by public office holders, a situation made even worse considering that they are also expected to investigate cases and prosecute offenders.

‘Despite this, 35% of CCB’s budget will be expended on capital projects while 65% will be for recurrent. Allocations within the capital budget that support CCB performance are mainly public enlightenment at N120m in the 36 states and FCT, as well as capturing of completed asset declaration forms at N70m.

As with virtually all the MDAs, there are allocations for office buildings, purchase of library books etc. Of interest also is N230m voted for monitoring. If shared among the 36 states and FCT evenly, each would have a little above N6m. This amount may not effectively support development of Monitoring and Evaluation systems as well as logistics of the process.

Way forward

The report concludes that allocations made by the government to anti-corruption agencies show its insincerity in fighting corruption and that the funds being allocated to them are inadequate in addressing the magnitude of corruption in the country.

“The present allocations to the anticorruption agencies cannot address the magnitude of corruption in the country. The agencies are challenged by the enormity of cases and the daring nature of some of the cases,” it stated.

“Relying on donors and bilateral collaborations to support programs aimed at fighting corruption shows government insincerity in addressing the problem. If the government wants to tackle corruption then it must be seen to be allocating adequate resources to the agencies responsible for tackling corruption,’ the report admonishes.

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It also recommends that the Nigerian government should prioritise these graft agencies and make intervention funds like Sure –P also available to them. It also enjoins civil society groups to monitor the implementation of allocations to these agencies to ascertain the real utilization of the resources that eventually get to their coffers.

It equally urged the agencies to prioritise allocations to them in a way that would enhance their ability to fight corruption “rather than following the path of traditional ministries that vote large amounts for sitting allowances, maintenance etc…”

Attempts to get the government to react to the report were unsuccessful as calls made to the Reuben Abati, the president’s special adviser on media and Publicity and his counterpart, Doyin Okupe, senior special adviser on public affairs were not answered.

Subsequent text messages sent to their phones requesting for reactions to the report were also ignored to as at press time.

Kemi Okonyedo, executive director, CLEEN Foundation, in an interaction with https://icirnigeria.org/ said that it is high time African governments take more seriously research based reports capable of improving on governance.

“We hope the government would take cognizance of it (report) and take steps to address the issues raised. There’s a need for the government to appreciate evidence based research to influence policy formulation. It helps to assess impact of its policies and monitor performance of its agencies,” she stated.

It would also be recalled that another civil society group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, had recently described Nigeria’s retrogression in the Transparency International’s global Corruption Perception Index (CPI) as “a reality check, confirming that the country’s fight against corruption has lost track, and showing why it is now critical for the government of President Goodluck Jonathan to fight corruption more by its action than words.”

In the 2013 corruption index, TI had ranked Nigeria as the 144th most corrupt among the 177 countries studied in the world. In 2012, Nigeria had ranked as the 124th most corrupt nation among the less than 170 countries studied. The survey sadly described Nigeria as an example of countries where oil resources were only available to very small elite.

Even high ranking members of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, have criticized President Jonathan’s record in fighting corruption.

In December, 2013, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, accused the Jonathan administration of failing to fight the scourge with seriousness and urged the President to do more in that regard.

As a mark of the government’s lack of seriousness, the Speaker observed that it had repeatedly failed to act on recommendations of parliamentary investigations but had instead ordered further probes that yielded no results.

“In some cases, you have the government setting up new committees to duplicate the job already done by the parliament…By the action of setting up different committees for straightforward cases, the president’s body language doesn’t tend to support the fight against corruption,” the Speaker stated.

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