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Insecurity worsening despite N10.02tn six-year security vote – BudgIT

The 2021 budget of the Federal Government contains 316 duplicated projects valued at N39.5bn, BudgIT, a civic-tech non-profit organisation in Nigeria declared on Tuesday.

BudgIT said its investigations further revealed that 115 of the duplicated projects were from the Federal Ministry of Health, describing the development as disturbing.

The Lagos-based firm disclosed this in a statement issued by its Communications Associate, Iyanu Fatoba, which was titled ‘BudgIT highlights corruption loopholes in the budget process, calls for urgent budget reforms’.

But the Federal Government decided to stay mute over the allegation, as repeated efforts to get the response of the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning were futile.

Calls and text messages to the media aide of the finance minister, Yunusa Abdullahi, on the allegation of BudgIT were not answered nor replied to up till the time of filing this report on Tuesday night.

The advocacy organisation, in its statement, said, “Our investigations into the 2021 budget revealed at least 316 duplicated capital projects worth N39.5bn, 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.”

It added, “Even worse, agencies now receive allocations for capital projects they cannot execute. For example, the National Agriculture Seed Council has an allocation for N400m to construct solar street lights across all six geopolitical zones.

“The Federal College of Forestry in Ibadan in Oyo State got N50m for the construction of street lights in Edo State. These are aberrations that need to be corrected.”

BudgIT also called on the government to audit security spending and close loopholes for corruption in the budget process.

The Chief Executive Officer of the firm, Gabriel Okeowo, was quoted as saying, “ The year 2021 has been a horrifying year for Nigerians concerning security as the country combats mutating forms of crime and terror across all its 36 states.

“This is despite allocating over N10.02tn to security between 2015 and 2021. In the 2021 budget, the entire security sector’s allocation was N1.97tn, representing a 14 per cent increase from the N1.78tn allocated in 2020.”

The firm stated that increased resources allocated to the security sector meant that less money was available to develop other sectors.

It therefore noted that there was a need for more scrutiny of how these allocations were budgeted and spent.

BudgIT’s publication noted that various non-security related government agencies now request and receive allocations for security votes, an opaque feature of the Nigerian security ecosystem devoid of accountability.

It stated that in the 2021 budget, a total of 117 federal agencies received allocations for security votes worth N24.3bn, despite many of these agencies already having allocations for security charges to cover each agency’s security needs.

Furthermore, BudgIT observed that the little budgetary allocation provided to other sectors were plagued with various loopholes for leakages and theft of public funds.

Okeowo enjoined the Federal Government to urgently block all loopholes in the budget creation and implementation process.

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