By Ibrahim Adeleke
No fewer than 460 duplicated projects amounting to N378.9 billion were allegedly inserted in the 2022 budget according to BudgIT, a data-driven Nigerian civic organisation.
The concerned projects, BudgIT said, were inflated projects amounting to billions of naira directly linked to the State House and the Presidency.
They include a N20.8 billion request by the Presidency to construct a 14-bed presidential wing at the existing State House Medical Center, N28.7 million requested for the purchase of 2 units of 10KG washing machine and 6 units of LG Televisions in the State House Lagos Liaison Office, among others.
Likewise, four recreational parks under the Ministry of Environment, have a total allocation of N67.8 million to construct “Gun Armouries” in Cross Rivers, Kaduna, Borno & 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?” the organisation queried.
President Muhammadu Buhari had on December 31, 2021, signed the 2022 Appropriation Bill into law.
In a statement on Monday, January 17, 2022, signed by its Communications Associate, Iyanu Fatoba, BudgIT said the alleged 316 duplicated projects inserted into the 2021 FG Budget, approved by NASS, were discovered by the NGO while Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) validated 257.
Further commenting on the 2022 approved budget, the organisation frowned that some projects were approved for MDAs who do not have the capacity to execute them.
BudgIT said that the National Agency For Great Green Wall, 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% of its capital budget dedicated to purchasing Motorcycles, Street lights and other projects outside its mandate.
As Nigeria is currently battling double-digit inflation, one of the worst 20 out of 196 countries in the world, the BudgIT raised concern that the River Basin Development Authorities (RBDA), under the Ministry of Water Resources set up to deal with food prices, has instead metamorphosed into an agency that constructs roads and supplies street lights with a total of N6.3 billion budget to supplying street lights, and N14.8 billion for construction of 219 roads across 36 states.
The civic-tech organisation’s Country Director, Gabriel Okeowo, said that the loopholes for fraud in the 2022 FG budget is a crime against Nigerians and injustice to hardworking taxpayers.