…Minister pledges removal at implementation stage
BudgIT has urged the Federal Government, National Assembly and civil society organisations to amend and eliminate about 460 duplicated projects inserted in the 2022 budget.

This comes as the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning assured that the Federal Government will not spend money on any project that is duplicated in the budget.

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

In the 2021 budget, BudgIT observed 316 duplicated projects inserted into the 2021 FG Budget approved by NASS, while ICPC verified 257 duplications, and the Budget Office confirmed the existence of only 185 duplicated projects worth N20.13 billion.

Speaking of projects approved under MDAs that cannot execute them, 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 N1.3 billion or 64 per cent of its capital budget dedicated to purchasing motorcycles, street lights and other projects outside its mandate.

The organisation said four recreational parks under the Ministry of Environment, have a total allocation of N67.8million to construct “Gun Armouries” in Cross Rivers, Kaduna, Borno and Yobe States, even though the Ministry of Environment is not a security agency. 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?

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

“Unfortunately, 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, 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 N14.8 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,” it stated.

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 NigeriaN6.29trillion in 2022.

BudgIT hinted that it 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 citizens.

It called 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.

It also enjoined Nigerians, CSOs, the private sector, the international community, and reformers to join the call for urgent redress of the issues to ensure public funds work for all Nigerians and not for a privileged few politicians.

In his response to the ‘findings’, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Dr Zainab Ahmed, who spoke through her Special Adviser, Media and Communications, Yunusa Tanko Abdullahi said while the ministry is not aware of project duplications, she explained that mistakes cannot be ruled out in a voluminous document like the budget.

The Special Adviser assured that such duplications would be removed during the process of implementation.

He added: “I am not sure of the ‘alleged’ duplications but if there were duplications, they are not intentional and not impossible to have some few cases. But, that is always sorted anyway in the course of reviews and implementation. It’s a big document so you can understand the pressure to put it together.

The government won’t provide double resources for the same project. That is for sure, the Hon Minister won’t do that. So, no cause for alarm.”