New findings by BudgIT Nigeria, a budget tracking company, has shown that President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration controversially labelled meetings, celebrations and anniversaries as Capital Project in the 2021 Budget which is set to gulp about NGN13.08 trillion.
Capital Project represents infrastructure which government construct, expand or renovate as assets belonging to states or Federal. Rail lines, Roads, Buildings are referred to as Capital Projects, however, President Buhari's administration classified meetings, celebrations and anniversaries as Capital Projects.
Capital projects are mostly expected to be ventures that the government can earn a Return On Investment (ROI).
In a report by BudgIT Nigeria, AllNews gathered that billions were budgeted for meetings, celebrations and anniversaries in disguise as Capital Projects, begging the question on how the government intend to recuperate investments on them.
BudgIT Nigeria stated, "Some cases in point include; N3.3bn for “Posting and Return Entitlement of Ambassadors and Officers” in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, N74.5 million allocated for “Anniversaries and Celebrations” in the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDC). N40 million for “Peculiar Allowance” in Nigeria Christian Pilgrim Commission.
"These were all categorized as capital expenditures." BudgIT Nigeria disclosed. Note that new Capital Projects account for 55.51% of Capital expenditure in the 2021 Budget despite President Buhari stating that 2021 Budget will focus more on ongoing Capital Projects.
This means many new Capital Projects will be left uncompleted next year despite already allocating funds for them. BudgIT Nigeria further disclosed that GPS coordinates were not provided to monitor projects as promised by the Nigerian government, also "many capital projects also had no specific locations."
Line items by government agencies were also duplicated, with different capital budgets attached to them. AllNews learnt from BudgIT Nigeria that over NGN41 billion was budgeted for these duplications which were found in two to three places in the 2021 budget.
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"Duplication, opacity and fragmentation of line items by government agencies could present opportunities for subverting checks and balances meant for accountability. As a case in point, two line items tagged “Nurse Tutor Training” and “Special Intervention SDG 1” were duplicated in 3 and 2 places, respectively, with different budget codes.
"These two line items have allocations totalling over N41 Billion earmarked for them, without specific descriptions." the Budget tracking company revealed.
BudgIT Nigeria stated that "The fragmentation of capital projects is an urgent conversation that @nigeriagov needs to address. In an era of dwindling revenues caused by low oil prices and the current slump in the global economy, it is crucial for the government to pay attention to a few projects of immense social and economic value."