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We have uncovered 460 duplicated projects worth N378.9bn in 2022 budget – BudgIT

A civic-tech non-profit organisation, BudgIT has disclosed that 460 projects amounting to N378.9 billion were duplicated in the 2022 budget.

This was contained in a statement released by communications associate at BudgIT, Iyanu Fatoba.

Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari on December 31, 2021 signed the N17.13 trillion 2022 appropriation bill into law.

The presidency had submitted a proposed fiscal budget of N16.391 trillion to the national assembly, but the lawmakers later raised it to N17.127 trillion – an increase of N735.8 billion.

BudgIT said it uncovered the discrepancies after examining the 21,108 capital projects in the budget.

“Our preliminary analysis of the 21,108 capital projects in the 2022 approved budget revealed 460 duplicated projects amounting to N378.9 billion,” the statement reads.

“Recall that BudgIT observed 316 duplicated projects inserted into the 2021 FG Budget approved by NASS. ICPC verified 257 duplications, while the Budget Office confirmed the existence of only 185 duplicated projects worth N20.13bn, after which it informed the public that funds were not released for the projects in 2021.”

BudgIT also mentioned the occurrence of “inflated projects” amounting to billions of naira directly linked to the State House and the presidency.

It listed them to include N20.8 billion requested by the presidency to construct a 14-bed presidential wing at the existing State House Medical Center; N28.72 million requested for the purchase of two units of 10kg washing machine and six units of LG televisions in the State House, Lagos Liaison Office, among others.

Speaking of projects approved under ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) that do not have the capacity to execute them, BudgIT said the National Agency for Great Green Wall (NAGGW) has N1.3 billion or 64% of its capital budget dedicated to purchasing motorcycles, street lights and other projects outside its mandate.

The organisation also raised questions on the ministry of environment which has an allocation of N67.8 million to construct “gun armories” in Cross River, Kaduna, Borno and Yobe states, even though the ministry is not a security agency.

It also said the River Basin Development Authorities (RBDA) had metamorphosed into an agency that constructs roads and supplies street lights.

“A cumulative total of N6.3billion was allocated to supplying street lights in 73 communities across the 36 states, while N14.8 billion was allocated for the construction of 219 roads across 36 states; whereas the majority of the roads are the responsibilities of state and local governments and not the federal government,” the statement reads.

Speaking on the findings, Gabriel Okeowo, BudgIT’s country director, described the duplicated projects as “loopholes for fraud”.

According to him, they are crimes against the 86 million Nigerians living below the poverty line, an injustice to hardworking taxpayers and an open mockery of countries and lending institutions that intend to lend Nigeria N6.29 trillion in 2022.

“BudgIT is currently finalising its detailed analysis of the approved FG 2022 budget which would be presented to all stakeholders in the executive and legislative arm of government as well as the general citizens,” Okeowo added.

“In the meantime, we call on the government to prioritise projects that are of utmost benefit and exercise discipline in implementing duplicated and poorly costed projects in the 2022 budget.”

BudgIT also urged Nigerians, CSOs, the private sector, the international community, and reformers to join the call for an urgent redress of the issues to ensure public funds work for all Nigerians and not for a privileged few politicians.

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