Tracka, a transparency platform owned by BudgIT, that allows citizens to collaborate, track and give feedback on public projects in their communities, has observed that a higher percentage of the ₦100 billion allocated for zonal intervention projects in 2020 approved budget were allocated for empowerment projects in lieu of infrastructural projects.
Considering the challenge of service delivery in the country, Tracka ensures that allocated public funds for projects nominated by members of the National Assembly, are effectively disbursed for the good of the people in local communities.
Lack of transparency and citizen inclusion in the nomination of the capital projects has led to an increasing number of abandoned projects in various communities across Nigeria, and despite the huge funds allocated for capital expenditure over the years, some projects are either left uncompleted, mismanaged or worse still, abandoned.
Tracka’s analysis also reveals that over 50% of nominated projects in the last five years were “empowerment programmes.” These programmes include the disbursement of items like sewing machines, bicycles, tricycles, grinding machines amidst other things to constituency members.
“While we advocate for genuine citizen empowerment, the current mode of disbursement is, to say the least, questionable,” says Ilevbaoje Uadamen, Head of Tracka. “In 2019 and 2020 alone, a total of N58 billion and N63 billion were allocated respectively for empowerment provisions. How do politicians come to determine the empowerment needs of their constituents without needs assessment nor inclusion in the decision-making process and how are the beneficiaries decided?” he queried further.
According to recent reports, the government has in the past 11 years allocated a minimum of N1.1 trillion for constituency projects (note that funds have not been released for 2020 constituency projects as at the time of this press release), however, the budget breakdown result misaligns with the huge sum of money released to the respective MDAs for project execution.
In addition to the aforementioned irregularities, we also observed that projects worth a total sum of ₦2.1 billion have unspecified locations. Failure to provide these locations is antithetical to democracy, depriving communities, CSOs and auditing bodies of information. This anomaly provides an avenue for siphoning public funds meant for project implementation and also impedes opportunities to monitor and ensure proper implementation of the public officials’ obligations to the people.
In the 2020 budget, Tracka discovered over 988 projects that were budgeted under agencies that do not have the mandate to execute the projects. We observed that a total sum of ₦71.5m was budgeted for the supply of 30 tricycles, 20 carted motorcycles and 80 Motorcycles in Eket/Esit Eket/ Ibeno/Onna, Akwa Ibom State under the Ministry of Science and Technology and awarded to the National Centre for Hydropower Research and Development. Projects like this make us raise eyebrows as the ministry in question does not have the competence to execute empowerment projects.
Tracka calls on Nigerian citizens to effectively engage their elected representatives to carry out a needs assessment to ensure their needs are adequately represented in the budget. Nigerians should also track projects until completion and always demand accountability of allocated funds. We equally call on members of the National Assembly to also ensure that capital projects are being made a priority for the citizens.