BudgIT, a non-profit organisation leading the advocacy for transparency and accountability in public finance in Nigeria, has called on the government to audit security spending and close loopholes in the budget process.
The organisation noted that despite allocating over N10.02 trillion to security between 2015 and 2021, the country has been relentlessly battling with insecurity in all the states of the federation.
“In the 2021 budget, the entire security sector’s allocation was N1.97 trillion, representing a 14 per cent increase from the N1.78 trillion allocated in 2020,” Gabriel Okeowo, BudgIT’s CEO, noted.
He said there is a need for more scrutiny of how these allocations are budgeted and spent.
While speaking on BudgIT’s recent publication: “Demanding Budget Reforms for Resource Optimization,” Okeowo said noted that various non-security related government agencies now request and receive allocations for “Security Votes”, an opaque feature of the Nigerian security ecosystem devoid of accountability.
Citing the 2021 budget, BudgIT noted that a total of 117 federal agencies received allocations for “Security Votes” worth N24.3 billion, despite many of these agencies already having allocations for “Security Charges” to cover each agency’s security needs.
Okeowo noted further: “Our investigations into the 2021 budget revealed at least 316 duplicated capital projects worth N39.5 billion, 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 N400 million to construct solar street lights across all six geopolitical zones, while the Federal College of Forestry in Ibadan in Oyo State got N50 million for the construction of street lights in Edo State.
“These are aberrations that need to be corrected.”
Okeowo said Nigeria is already haunted by a staggering N3.31 trillion debt servicing burden, which will wipe out nearly 41.63 per cent of the projected N7.99 trillion 2021 revenue, and that the government can maximise the little public funds left by blocking the leakages.
Okeowo said the Nigerian government already plans to borrow N4.69 trillion to meet its expenditure needs in 2021, and cannot afford to allow these borrowed funds to be stolen by a few corrupt elites through loopholes in the budget.