FG’s N732bn Allocations For Empowerment Higher Than Health Projects In 2024 Budget- BudgIT

Tracka, a service delivery promotion platform of BudgIT which allows citizens to partner in rhw tracking and giving of feedback on public projects in their communities, has discovered N732.5bn worth of 4,440 capital and constituency empowerment projects in the 2024 Federal Government budget.

It called on anti-graft agencies to probe these anomalies in the 2024 budget to forestall diversion, misappropriation, and embezzlement, urging “elected representatives and Ministries, Department and Agencies to provide timely updates to the public and ensure the quality implementation of these projects to ensure Nigerians derive maximum benefit from public funds.”

This amount, it said in a statement by Ayomide Ladipo, Head, Tracka, is higher than the N646.5bn allocated to health projects in the same budget, at a time Nigeria in 2023 recorded the second-highest child mortality rate in the world, apart from demonstrating the government’s unwillingness to tackle these critical emergencies head-on. The allocations in the 2024 budget, it said, do not reflect priority in the health sector.

A breakdown of the figure showed that over 2,558 projects worth N624bn were allocated to agencies outside their mandate, including the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), which was allocated N5bn for the Procurement and Distribution of Official Vehicles to Selected Traditional Rulers in the Six Geo-Political Zones in Nigeria (Multiple Lots). Another is the Nigeria Institute of Oceanography and Marine Research (NiOMR), which got N2.32bn to construct a 3.5km Road from Methodist Church Ibu to the Eri River.

Tracka maintained that empowerment projects in the budget are vague and challenging to track due to their nature, apart from being used as a funnel to transfer public resources to party loyalists, resulting in the misuse of public funds.

Previously, empowerment projects were limited to constituency projects, it said, adding that over the years, they have gradually seeped into capital projects through insertions by the National Assembly.

For instance, Tracka said the National Assembly inserted 7,447 projects valued at N2.24tr in the 2024 budget, identifing this as a problematic trend, considering the huge infrastructure gap and budget deficits the nation is grappling with.

Commenting on the development, BudgIT’s Country Director, Gabriel Okeowo, expressed concern over this development, stressing that “the implications of assigning projects to agencies outside of their mandate are that it undermines monitoring, evaluation, and the sustainability of these projects. These agencies lack the expertise and personnel to ensure quality service delivery for these projects, leading to under-delivery and a colossal waste of taxpayers’ money and scarce resources.”