316 Capital Projects Duplicated In 2021 Budget, BudgIT Alleges

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A Non-Profit Organization (NPO) BudgIT has discovered 316 duplicated capital projects in the 2021 budget.

The civic-tech non-profit organisation, which advocates for transparency and accountability in public finance in Nigeria, stated this in a statement on its Twitter handle.

While speaking on BudgIT’s recent publication, “Demanding Budget Reforms for Resource Optimization”, Gabriel Okeowo, BudgIT’s CEO, said: “Our investigations into the 2021 budget revealed at least 316 duplicated capital projects worth N39.5billion, with 115 of those duplicate projects occurring in the Ministry of Health.

Okeowo described this development as “very disturbing especially considering the health infrastructure deficit and the raging COVID-19 pandemic affecting Nigeria.”

The BudgIT investigation further revealed that “agencies now receive allocations for capital projects they cannot execute. For example, the National Agriculture Seed Council has an allocation for N400million to construct solar street lights across all six geopolitical zones, while the Federal College of Forestry in Ibadan in Oyo State got N50million for the construction of street lights in Edo State”.

Okeowo insisted that “these are aberrations that need to be corrected”.

In the last six years, BudgIT stated that the Federal Government has voted N10.02trillion to security between 2015 and 2021.

Despite this huge budgetary allocation to security matters, “2021 has been a horrifying year for Nigerians concerning security as the country combats mutating forms of crime and terror across all its 36 states”.

According to BudgIT: “In the 2021 budget, the entire security sector’s allocation was N1.97trillion, representing a 14 percent increase from the N1.78trillion allocated in 2020.”

The BudgIT boss noted that “increased resources allocated to the security sector means that less money is available to develop other sectors; thus, there is a need for more scrutiny of how these allocations are budgeted and spent”.

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He also lamented that “various non-security related government agencies now request and receive allocations for ‘Security Votes’, an opaque feature of the Nigerian security ecosystem devoid of accountability”.

In the 2021 budget, “117 federal agencies received allocations for ‘Security Votes’ worth N24.3billion, despite many of these agencies already having allocations for ‘Security Charges’ to cover each agency’s security needs” BudgIT said.

The NPO observed that “the little budgetary allocation provided to other sectors are plagued with various loopholes for leakages and theft of public funds”.

Okeowo urged the Federal Government to “block all loopholes in the budget creation and implementation process”.

According to him: “Nigeria is already haunted by a staggering N3.31trillion debt servicing burden which will wipe out nearly 41.63 percent of the projected N7.99trillion 2021 revenue.”

He advised the government to “maximise the little public funds left by blocking the leakages BudgIT has identified”.

Nigeria’s budget Okeowo said, “can be an excellent tool to accelerate economic recovery, but if the budget is left with the current loopholes, it can cover corruption and grand theft”.

On a positive note, Okeowo, commended the Federal Government for taking positive steps to check sharp practices in budget preparation and implementation.

When contacted, the Budget Office of the Federation said it will get back with a response but was yet to as at the time of filing this report.

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