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2024 Budget: BudgIT unearths N732 billion allocation for vague empowerment projects
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2024 Budget: BudgIT unearths N732 billion allocation for vague empowerment projects

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BudgIT said its open-source service delivery monitoring platform, Tracka, has discovered an allocation of N732.5 billion for empowerment projects in the 2024 budget by the federal government. 

According to a statement released by the organization on Monday, the amount allocated for the empowerment projects, which it described as vague, is higher than the N646.5 billion allocated to health projects. 

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It added that despite the 2023 record of Nigeria having the second-highest child mortality rate in the world, the government has shown no signs of tackling these critical emergencies head-on, as the allocations in the 2024 budget do not reflect priority in the health sector. 

“Tracka maintains that empowerment projects are vague and challenging to track due to their nature. They are also used as a funnel to transfer public resources to party loyalists, resulting in the misuse of public funds,” the organization stated.  

BudgIT said its Tracka discovered a total of 4,440 empowerment projects in the 2024 budget. While noting that empowerment projects were previously limited to constituency projects, it said over the years, they have gradually seeped into capital projects through insertions by the National Assembly.  

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“For instance, the National Assembly inserted 7,447 projects valued at N2.24 trillion in the 2024 budget. Tracka identifies this as a problematic trend, considering the nation’s huge infrastructure gap and budget deficits,” it said.  

The organization said further analysis of the budget also showed that over 2,558 projects worth N624 billion were allocated to agencies outside their mandate. 

“An example is the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN)-ERGP20241489-allocated N5 billion for the Procurement and Distribution of Official Vehicles to Selected Traditional Rulers in the Six Geopolitical Zones in Nigeria (Multiple Lots).  

“Another is the Nigeria Institute of Oceanography and Marine Research (NiOMR)-ERGP20245718–allocated N2.32 billion to construct a 3.5km Road from Methodist Church lbu to the Eri River,” it added. 

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Commenting on the findings, BudglT’s Country Director, Gabriel Okeowo, expressed concern over this development. According to him, the implications of assigning projects to agencies outside of their mandate are that it undermines the monitoring, evaluation, and sustainability of these projects. 

“These agencies lack the expertise and personnel to ensure quality service delivery for these projects, leading to under-delivery another colossal waste of taxpayers’ money and Scarce resources,” he added. 

BudgIT called on anti-graft agencies to probe the anomalies in the 2024 budget to forestall diversion, misappropriation, and embezzlement. It also called on 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. 

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