Women Affairs Ministry allocates 40% of 2024 proposed budget to empowerment

THE Federal Ministry of Women Affairs, under its Minister Uju Kennedy-Ohanenye, has earmarked 40 per cent of its 2024 proposed budget for empowerment schemes.

The Ministry proposed a little over N10 million for the 2024 fiscal year, and the sum covers overhead, personnel and capital projects.

A breakdown of the allocation shows that N1.63 billion would be spent on personnel costs, N796.72 million on overhead costs and N7.60 billion on capital expenditure.

Filtering through words like empowerment, campaign, promotion, support, incentives and improvement used under line items, The ICIR gathered that over N4 billion was earmarked for such programs by the Ministry, which is about 40.58 per cent of the entire sum.

While the Ministry headquarters earmarked N3.81 billion for various empowerment programs, the National Centre for Women Development proposed another N254 million for women empowerment as contained in the proposed budget.

Findings by The ICIR showed that there are about 40 empowerment programs to be executed by the Ministry using the N4.07 billion.

While some of these programs were new projects initiated by the Ministry, others were already ongoing projects.

The empowerment schemes are part of the capital projects to be implemented in the 2024 fiscal year.

They take up 53.5 per cent of the capital projects proposed by the Ministry in the coming year.

Some of the projects include support for vulnerable and indigent women (N103.8 million), national response on orphans and vulnerable children (N102.1 million) and training and empowerment of women and youths in Ankpa federal constituency, Kogi state (N250 million).

PERSONNEL OVERHEAD CAPITAL TOTAL
ALLOCATION
FEDERAL MINISTRY OF
WOMEN AFFAIRS – HQTRS
1,304,818,000 565,858,011 6,729,669,028 8,600,345,039
NATIONAL CENTRE FOR
WOMEN DEVELOPMENT
323,728,897 230,857,283 872,473,134 1,427,059,314
TOTAL 1,628,546,897 796,715,294 7,602,142,162 10,027,404,353

Avenues for misappropriation

While empowerment schemes are often included in Nigeria’s budget as a means of alleviating poverty, they have been identified in the past as a means through which corrupt politicians embezzle public funds.

In 2022, Civil Society Organisation (CSO) BudgiT questioned huge allocations for empowerment schemes, which gulped nearly 60 per cent of the N100 billion allocated for constituency projects for the year.

The organisation disclosed that such projects have been used as avenues for misappropriation of funds by lawmakers in the past due to the difficulties associated with tracking such schemes based on their customarily vague nature.

“We would like to reiterate the importance of having detailed documentation of project locations as this provides the citizens with the correct information to hold the government accountable.

“Whenever details of public projects are unavailable to the public, monitoring the implementation of such projects becomes difficult for the citizens, civil society, and auditing bodies. This creates a loophole for under-delivery and embezzlement of public funds,” Uadamen Ilevbaoje, who works as the head of BudgiT’s project tracking arm, Tracka, disclosed.






     

     

    In 2019, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) described such projects as a convenient means of embezzling funds by politicians.

    “These Capacity Building and Empowerment projects have become a convenient conduit for embezzling public funds by the sponsoring legislators and the executing agency as they are difficult to track and verify due to their ‘soft’ nature,” the report signed by ICPC Chairman Bolaji Owasanoye, disclosed.

    The ICIR reached out to the Head, Press and Public Relations of the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs Grace Njoku, requesting measures put in place to ensure accountability for the projects upon approval on Friday, December 22.

    A message was also sent to the Minister’s Special Assistant, Media Joseph Osondu Ohaeri on Friday, requesting the same information. However, both messages have yet to be replied to at the time of filing this report.

    Ijeoma Opara is a journalist with The ICIR. Reach her via [email protected] or @ije_le on Twitter.

    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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