Nigeria’s 2020 budget has projects worth ₦2.1 billion in unspecified locations, leaving the funds open to manipulation and fraud, a transparency platform Tracka said on Thursday.
It said failure to provide these locations also prevents monitoring and proper implementation of the concerned public officials’ obligations to the people.
Tracka is owned by BudgIT, a non-profit that uses technology to promote transparency and accountability in public finance. It made the claims yesterday in a statement.
Citing recent reports, it said the Federal Government has in 11 years allocated a minimum of N1.1 trillion for constituency projects, but that “the budget breakdown result misaligns with the huge sum of money released to the respective MDAs for project execution.
“In addition to the aforementioned irregularities, we also observed that projects worth a total sum of ₦2.1 billion have unspecified locations.
“Failure to provide these locations is antithetical to democracy, depriving communities, CSOs (Civil Society Organisations) and auditing bodies of information.”
According to it, this anomaly provides an avenue for siphoning public funds meant for project implementation.
It added: “In the 2020 budget, Tracka discovered over 988 projects that were budgeted under agencies that do not have the mandate to execute the projects.
“We observed that a total sum of ₦71.5m was budgeted for the supply of 30 tricycles, 20 carted motorcycles and 80 Motorcycles in Eket/Esit Eket/ Ibeno/Onna, Akwa Ibom State under the Ministry of Science and Technology and awarded to the National Centre for Hydropower Research and Development.
“Projects like this make us raise eyebrows as the ministry in question does not have the competence to execute empowerment projects.”
Tracka also observed that a higher percentage of the ₦100 billion allocated for zonal intervention projects in the 2020 budget were allocated for empowerment projects rather than of infrastructural projects.
It said its analysis showed that “over 50% of nominated projects in the last five years were ‘empowerment programmes.’
“These programmes include the disbursement of items like sewing machines, bicycles, tricycles, grinding machines amidst other things to constituency members.
Head of Tracka, Ilevbaoje Uadamen, said: “While we advocate for genuine citizen empowerment, the current mode of disbursement is, to say the least, questionable.
“In 2019 and 2020 alone, a total of N58 billion and N63 billion were allocated respectively for empowerment provisions.
“How do politicians come to determine the empowerment needs of their constituents without needs assessment nor inclusion in the decision-making process and how are the beneficiaries decided?”
Tracka urged Nigerians to effectively engage their elected representatives to carry out a needs assessment to ensure their needs are adequately represented in the budget.
It said Nigerians should also track projects until completion and always demand accountability of allocated funds.
It lamented that lack of transparency and citizen inclusion in the nomination of the capital projects has led to an increasing number of “uncompleted, mismanaged or worse still, abandoned projects” across Nigeria.
“We equally call on members of the National Assembly to also ensure that capital projects are being made a priority for the citizens,” it added.