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Under Buhari’s Watch: Again, duplicated projects show up in the 2022 FG approved budget

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BUDGIT, an organisation that works to bring budgets and public finance data to the public,  has identified 460 duplicated projects in the 2022 FG Approved Budget.

The group blamed the National Assembly for budget padding and other corruption loopholes and called for urgent measures to address the situation.

BudgIT, a foremost civic-tech organisation leading the advocacy for transparency and accountability in Nigeria’s public finance, called on the citizens, CSOs, private sector, and the international community to urgently prevail on the National Assembly and Presidency to urgently amend and eliminate the loopholes in FG’s 2022 Approved Budget. 

Preliminary analysis of the 21,108 capital projects in the 2022 approved budget revealed 460 duplicated projects amounting to N378.9billion.

Examples of the duplicated projects according to BudgIT include;

  1.  N20.8billionrequested by the Presidency to construct a 14-bed presidential wing at the existing State House Medical Center,
  2. N28.72million requested to purchase 2 units of 10KG washing machine and 6 units of LG Televisions in the State House Lagos Liaison Office, among others.

They also highlighted projects that were approved under MDAs that cannot manage them; some of them are as follow:

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.

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This is coming when the communities in these states are being ravaged by bandits and terrorists who often arrive on motorcycles. 

TheMinistry of Environment has a budget approved for four (4) recreational parks and a total allocation of N67.8million to construct “Gun Armouries” in Cross Rivers, Kaduna, Borno & Yobe States, even though the Ministry of Environment is not a security agency. 

According to BudgIT, 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?

In addition, the River Basin Development Authorities (RBDA), under the Ministry of Water Resources, which was set up to facilitate the 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 earmarked for the construction of 219 roads across 36 states. In contrast, the majority of the roads are the responsibilities of State and Local governments and not the Federal Government. 

According to Gabriel Okeowo, BudgIT’s Country Director, “The loopholes for fraud in the 2022 FG budget is a crime against the 86 million Nigerians living below the poverty line, an injustice to hardworking taxpayers and an open mockery of countries and lending institutions that intend to borrow Nigeria N6.29trillion in 2022.” 

The group said it is putting the finishing touches to a thorough analysis of the approved FG 2022 budget, which would make it public to all stakeholders.

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Nigeria is currently battling double-digit inflation, one of the worst 20 out of 196 countries globally, marked by soaring prices of food, consumer goods, and other services.

Last year BudgIT observed 316 duplicated projects inserted into the 2021 FG Budget approved by NASS. BudgIT released a report claiming that President Muhammadu Buhari approved 316 repeated projects in the 2021 budget.

The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) verified and confirmed 257 duplications.

In contrast, 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. 

According to the group, the Nigerian government agencies have billions of naira reportedly earmarked as security votes – a fund usually given to state governments by the government to equip the security arms.

“Our analysis of the #2021 Budget reveals over 316 duplicated capital projects totalling N39.5bn, among other loopholes for corruption,” BudgIT said in the report.

BudgIT said it also found zero audit records of the N10.02tn received by the security sector between 2015 and 2021.

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Also, in respect of the 2020 budget, BudgIT urged FG to consolidate duplicate agencies as recommended in the Oronsaye Report. 

The Oronsaye Report is a government-sponsored report led by the then Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Stephen Oronsaye and presented to the Jonathan regime with recommendations to reduce statutory agencies of the government from 263 to 161.

The group said: “Implementation of the Oronsaye report will reduce the cost of governance. Eliminate duplication of projects through a horizontal collaboration of MDAs and vertical collaborations between the federal, state and local governments. 

“This not only eliminates the chance of having similar, overlapping projects in budgets but also offers opportunities for synergies—with the sharing of databases and training resources—helping to plug wastage caused by project repetition,” the report stated.

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