Out of the 19,036 capital projects contained in the 2021 budget, about 316 of them worth N39.5bn have been found to be duplicated by 74 Federal Government agencies.
President Muhammadu Buhari had in December 2020 signed the N13.59trn Budget into law.
Recall that the budget has N496.5bn approved for statutory transfer, N3.3trn for debt servicing, N4.1trn for capital expenditure, N5.6trn for recurrent expenditure and N5.2trn for fiscal deficit.
However, BudgIT, a non-profit organisation leading the advocacy for transparency and accountability in public finance said in its latest report that it had uncovered the duplication of 316 projects in the 2021 budget.
The report titled, ‘Demanding budget reforms for resources optimization’ showed that the Federal ministry of health topped the list of agencies with 115 duplicated projects.
This was followed by the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, and Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development with 40 and 25 duplicated projects respectively.
Others are Ministry of Education with 23 duplicated projects, Ministry of Transportation and Ministry of Science and Technology with 17 duplicated projects each.
BudgiT in the Report also stated that 13 duplicated projects were found in the Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Power, Ministry of Labour(11 projects) and Ministry of Water Resources (10 projects).
While highlighting some of the projects, the Report stated that the Nigerian Institute of Oceanography and Marine Research got an allocation of N300m for ‘Supply and installation of all-in-one solar street light, 10,000 lumens with lithium battery across the six geo-political zones’.
It noted that the same project was repeated under the National Agriculture Seeds Council with an allocation of N400mn for its implementation.
Similarly, the Report also noted that about N237.5m was budgeted by the Border Communities Development Agency for an ongoing ‘Construction of bridge across river Rima from bubuce to Augie local government area of Kebbi.
Also, the Federal Ministry of Environment also got an allocation of N150m to commence a new project for ‘Construction of bridge across river Rima from bubuce to Augie local government areas of Kebbi.’
Commenting on the report, the Chief Executive Officer of BudgIT, Gabriel Okeowo 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.
“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, while the Federal College of Forestry, Ibadan in Oyo State got N50m for the construction of street lights In Edo State. These are aberrations that need to be corrected.”
Okeowo called on the federal government to urgently block all loopholes in the budget preparation and implementation process.
He said that the budget if left with the current loopholes, could lead to corruption.
“The Nigerian government already plans to borrow N4.69trn to meet its expenditure needs in 2021, hence it cannot afford to allow these borrowed funds to be stolen by a few corrupt elites through loopholes in the budget,” he said.