Nigeria: Budget 2016, National Assembly Uncovers Fresh N500bn ‘Padding’

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Budget 2016 – The Nigerian National Assembly has discovered fresh padding by President Buhari and his officers of over N500 billion contained in the budgetary proposals for ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) in the 2016 budget proposals being worked upon by the legislature

Sources at the National Assembly told the Nigerian Tribune that the discovery of the bogus figures was responsible for the failure of the committees on appropriation to lay the report on the budget in the Senate and the House of Representatives last week Thursday.

A booklet containing the errors and padding were release to the senators and members of the House of Representatives on Thursday last week.

The National Assembly Budget and Research Office (NABRO), which published the questionable figures, said in the preface to the publication that it embarked on the scrutiny of the budget “to give technical support to member of the legislature, by pointing out some errors in the bill.”

It further said “given the current challenge of abnormalities in the 2016 budget proposal, where projects are repeated more than once in the budget and others undefined, NABRO rose to the occasion by providing the legislature with an accurate and inclusive review of the line items in the 2016 appropriation bill.”

The breakdown of repeated items showed that items totaling the sum of N1.030 billion were repeated in the estimates for Ministry of Agriculture.

Some of the items include the N20 million repeated in the name of “water reticulation in main station” repeated twice as N15 million and another N5 million for the National Institute for Oil Palm Research (NIFOR), Benin; the sum of N 198 million for the Federal College of Animal Health and Production Technology, Ibadan; another N98 million for the Federal College of Agriculture, Moore Plantation, Ibadan; the same of N676 million for the Federal College of Fisheries and Marine Technology, Lagos; N23 million for Federal College of Land Resources Technology, Kuru, Jos and the sum of N14 million for Nigerian Institute of Animal Science.

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The Federal College of Animal Health and Production Technology, Ibadan, Oyo State, had the sum of N64.3 million repeated for “advertisement in the dailies, opening ceremony and commencement of training programme, purchase and distribution of start-up kits, closing ceremony and departure.” The same item was captured with the sum of N43.3 million in the same budget.

 

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The same institute also has different figures captured as “substructures, concrete works, block works of roof and roofing coverings, metal work (windows), doors and ironmongery and plumbing installation,” which has the sum of N43.3 million and N37.1 million in the same budget.

NABRO submitted that the above represented repetitions in the Ministry of Agriculture, with some items captured as recurrent and capital projects at the same time. It stated that the projects in the ministry were not detailed in terms of location and scope.

The NASS Budget Office also raised issues with the contents of the Service Wide Votes, which had the sum of N370.003 billion in its capital component, but was recalculated to the sum of N7.4 billion by NABRO.

The office said the difference stood at the sum of N362.5 billion. Also affected is the Ministry of Communications Technology which had the sum of N6.7 billion repeated in different subheads. For instance, the office said the ministry had different figures for one line item “supervision of the work,” which was repeated with figures including N832,300, N381,600, N2,064,000 and N1,231,600.

It also had the sum of N302,801 and N1,933,250 as amount for “preliminary works” in the same budget. The Ministry of Environment accounted for repeated amounts totaling N367.7 million; National Park Headquarters, N5.5 million; Federal Capital Territory (N6.9 billion); Foreign Affairs (N10.04 million); office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation (N152.8 million); Ministry of Science and Technology, N382 million; Ministry of Works, Power and Housing (N8 billion).

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Of that amount, the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) accounted for N828.7 million, while the headquarters of the ministry accounted for N6.47 billion.

The document also discovered a repetition of the sum of N1.4 billion under the National Rural Electrification Agency and another N206.8 million for the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN).

The document also indicated that the Ministry of Transport repeated a number of items in the recurrent and capital projects. The ministry, according to the document, had a line item captured as “Furniture, Electronic gadgets, electrical appliances, stationeries and essential commondities” in the capital and recurrent votes. The item has N27,200,000 in capital votes and N43,856,016 in the recurrent.

It also had a subject considered as curious by NABRO captured as “to ensure effective operation of the parastatals’ which has the sum of N25 million under recurrent expenditure. The office remarked that “more details may be required.”

The ministry also repeated the item “provision of sports equipment for participation in sports activities” and another purchase of sporting/gaming equipment which got allotted the sums of N33 million under capital votes and another N47 million in the recurrent votes.

NABRO described the items as “similar projects.” The Ministry of Interior, according to the report, had the sum of N150 million repeated under the item “purchase of 6 nos marine patrol boats” which appears as recurrent and capital votes, while it also had the sum of N200 million as both capital and recurrent votes under the line item “purchase of generating set,” aside the sum of N1.5 billion captured as “rehabilitation/renovation of existing barracks” which also appears in the capital and recurrent votes.

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The Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), the report noted, also had the sum of N2.6 billion and another N801.9 million repeated as purchase of security equipment and purchase of defence equipment.

In the Ministry of Health, NABRO queried the sum of N209 million it described as “bilateral discussion with agencies of the Ministry, BOF and NASS monitoring and evaluation, e-payment and procurement of office equipment,” and another N1.9 billion described as “new items requesting.”

The office said explanations had to be provided for the said items. In the Ministry of Education, NABRO discovered that the sum of N1.9 billion was captured under repeated items. While the ministry allotted the sum of N1.9 billion for an item “acquisition of 17 offices for federal education quality assurance service,” under capital votes, it equally allotted the sum of N53 million for the same item under recurrent votes.

The Budget Office of the the National Assembly also discovered the curious allocation for “other maintenance services” captured in the allocation for West African Examination Council (WAEC); National Library of Nigeria; National Educations Council; Mass Literacy Council; Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria and the National Commission for Colleges of Education Secretariat.

The NABRO concluded that: “The 2016 budget proposal of the Federal Government of Nigeria has many areas that definitely require strict oversight by the legislature.

“The identification of repeated and undefined projects in the budgeted proposal is an area of concern that National Assembly Budget and Research Office consider necessary for effective legislative oversight.

“The need to make ‘The Change Mantra’ a reality also includes thorough legislative input into the budget as well as ensure full implementation by the Executive.”

 

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