*No audit records of N10trn for security sector
By Yinka Kolawole
THE 2021 national budget has been found to contain over 316 duplicated capital projects worth N39.5 billion, according to investigations by BudgIT, a public finance transparency advocacy firm.
A report of analysis of the 2021 budget made available to Vanguard noted that the duplication of projects is just one among other loopholes for corruption in the budget, adding that there were no audit records of N10.02 trillion received by the security sector between 2015 and 2021.
The report stated: “Our investigations into the 2021 budget revealed at least 316 duplicated capital projects worth N39.5 billion, with 115 of those duplicate projects occurring in the Ministry of Health. This is very disturbing especially considering the health infrastructure deficit and the raging COVID-19 pandemic affecting Nigeria.
“BudgIT also found zero audit records of the N10.02 trillion received by the security sector between 2015 and 2021.
“Even worse, 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. These are aberrations that need to be corrected,” the report stated.
BudgIT also noted that various non-securities 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, a total of 117 federal agencies received allocations for “Security Votes” worth N24.3 billion, despite many of these agencies already having allocations for “Security Charges” to cover each agency’s security needs.”
Commenting on the report, Gabriel Okeowo, CEO, BudgIT, enjoined the federal government to urgently block all loopholes in the budget creation and implementation process, some of which are highlighted in the recently released publication.
“Nigeria is already haunted by a staggering N3.31trillion debt servicing burden which will wipe out nearly 41.63% of the projected N7.99trillion 2021 revenue. The federal government can maximise the little public funds left by blocking the leakages BudgIT has identified”, Okeowo added.