From Uche Usim, Abuja
Four hundred and sixty duplicated projects valued at N378.9 billion have been uncovered in the recently-signed N17.13 trillion 2022 budget.
Communications Associate of BudgIT, a civic-tech non-profit organisation, Iyanu Fatoba made the startling revelation in a statement.
Some of the affected projects include; N20.8 billion requested by the presidency to construct a 14-bed presidential wing at the existing State House Medical Center; N28.72 million requested for the purchase of two units of 10kg washing machine and six units of LG televisions in the State House, Lagos Liaison Office, among others.
According to BudgIT, the infractions were discovered after examining the 21,108 capital projects in the budget.
For projects approved for various Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) that do not have the capacity and capability to execute them, the organisation disclosed that the National Agency for Great Green Wall (NAGGW) has N1.3 billion or 64% of its capital budget dedicated to purchasing motorcycles, street lights and other projects outside its mandate.
BudgIT also raised the red flag over the Ministry of Environment’s allocation of N67.8 million to construct “gun armories” in Cross River, Kaduna, Borno and Yobe States, even though the Ministry is not a security agency nor have the operational mandate to do so.
It also said the River Basin Development Authorities (RBDA) had metamorphosed into an agency that constructs roads and supplies street lights.
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“A cumulative total of N6.3 billion was allocated to supplying street lights in 73 communities across the 36 states, while N14.8 billion was allocated for the construction of 219 roads across 36 states; whereas the majority of the roads are the responsibilities of state and local governments and not the federal government,” the statement reads.
Commenting on the development, Gabriel Okeowo, BudgIT’s Country Director, described the duplicated projects as “loopholes for fraud”.
According to him, they are crimes 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 lend Nigeria N6.29 trillion in 2022.
“BudgIT is currently finalising its detailed analysis of the approved FG 2022 budget which would be presented to all stakeholders in the executive and legislative arm of government as well as the general citizens,” Okeowo added.
“In the meantime, we call on the government to prioritise projects that are of utmost benefit and exercise discipline in implementing duplicated and poorly costed projects in the 2022 budget.”
BudgIT also urged Nigerians, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), the private sector, the international community, and reformers to join the call for an urgent redress of the issues to ensure public funds work for all Nigerians and not for a privileged few politicians.
The presidency submitted a proposed fiscal budget of N16.391 trillion to the National Assembly, but the lawmakers later ballooned it to N17.127 trillion, representing an increase of N735.8 billion.