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Budget padding: ‘Personal interests’ projects worth N2trn inserted into 2024 budget by NASS members – BudgIT

BudgIT, a civic-tech non-profit organisation, says the national assembly inserted 7,447 constituency projects worth N2.24 trillion in the 2024 project.

The organisation said most of the projects inserted into the budget by the national assembly have “no national significance but narrowed to personal interests”.

BudgIT, on Wednesday, released a report on its findings of the allegation of budget padding by the national assembly made by Abdul Ningi, senator representing Bauchi central.

BACKGROUND

Last Saturday, Ningi stirred controversy when he alleged that the 2024 budget was padded by N3 trillion and that the country is operating two budgets concurrently.

The Bauchi senator said “huge damage” has been done to the north and the entire country in the budget.

On Tuesday, the allegations were debated during plenary at the red chamber, amid a rowdy session.

Subsequently, the senator was suspended for three months.

In December 2023, the two arms of the national assembly passed the 2024 appropriation bill, increasing its size from the N27.5 trillion proposed by President Bola Tinubu to N28.7 trillion.

BUDGIT’S FINDINGS

In the report, BudgIT said a breakdown of the 2024 budget shows that N25.4 trillion was earmarked for ministries, departments, and agencies.

The organisation said the N3.32 trillion allocation earmarked for government-owned enterprises (GOEs), the national assembly, the National Judicial Commission (NJC), the Public Complaints Commission (PCC), the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND), was excluded from the budget passed and published.

“However, our findings show that a budget breakdown totaling N25.4tn was provided for the budgets of the Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) and some other agencies receiving statutory allocation from the federal government,” the report reads.

“The comprehensive budget breakdown of government-owned enterprises, the National Assembly, the National Judicial Commission, the Public Complaints Commission, INEC, and TETFUND totaling N3.32tn was excluded from the budget that was passed and published.

“This does not mean the country operates two separate budgets and that there’s only one final budget known to us.”

‘INSERTED PROJECTS’

In the report, the organisation said the 10th national assembly continued the “ugly trend” of indiscriminate insertion of projects in the budget.

“A total of 7,447 projects culminating in N2.24tn were inserted in the 2024 budget by the National Assembly, an ugly trend that was accelerated in the 9th National Assembly.

“Fifty-five of the projects range with a value of N580.7bn are greater than N5bn in value. We also noticed that 281 projects worth N491bn, and 3,706 projects within the range of N100–500m, worth 759bn, were inserted into the budget.

“The national assembly has indiscriminately added projects to the budget, with most projects having no national significance but narrowed to personal interests.”

BudgIT said the members of the national assembly target some agencies and organisations for the insertion of projects.

The organisation said the federal ministry of agriculture and food security has the highest number of inserted projects, with 2,470 projects worth N632.31 billion.

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