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‘60% of corruption issues in Nigeria legalised in budget’

By Sodiq Omolaoye, Abuja
21 November 2021   |   4:27 am
A Civil Society Organisation, the Anti-Corruption Network has said that 60 per cent of corruption issues in Nigeria are built and legalised in the nation’s budgetary system.

[FILES] President Muhammadu Buhari presenting the 2022 budget to the joint session of the National Assembly in Abuja.

A Civil Society Organisation, the Anti-Corruption Network has said that 60 per cent of corruption issues in Nigeria are built and legalised in the nation’s budgetary system. 

The group alleged that the proposed 2022 budget for the presidency and other agencies were laced with fake items running into billions aimed at defrauding the citizens. 

Speaking in Abuja, the Executive Secretary of ACN, and former Chairman, Senate Committee on Federal Capital Territory, Dino Melaye maintained that budget fraud is the real foundation of all corrupt practices in the country. 

President Muhammadu Buhari had in October presented a budget of N16.39 trillion for the year 2022 to the Joint Session of the National Assembly.

Melaye described as most unfortunate that the nation’s collective wealth had been consistently looted under the guise of budget padding, which he said now calls for serious scrutiny. 

Making reference to the 2022 budget, Melaye wondered why the FIRS budget, which stands at N228bn would surpass the budget of the National Assembly pegged at N134bn and N120b proposed for the judiciary. 

He expressed concern that the FIRS budget also surpasses the current 2021 budgets of Abia, Adamawa, Anambra, Bauchi, Benue, Ebonyi, Edo, Ekiti, Enugu, Gombe, Jigawa, Kano, Kebbi, Kogi, Kwara, Nasarawa, Niger, Ondo, Osun, Plateau, Sokoto, Taraba, Yobe and Zamfara states.

He said: “In the FIRS 2022 budget proposal, the tax body earmarked N2.5bn for the purchase of land, N3bn for office furniture, N1.5bn for photocopying machines, N2.04bn for computers and N500m for the construction of sports facilities. The agency set aside N1bn for generator fuel and N250m for maintenance while a separate N550m was set aside for purchasing more generators.

“How on earth can FIRS budget a sum of N2.8bn for “uniforms and clothing” for the year 2022 and in defence, the FIRS Chairman through his Special Assistant on Media and Communication, Johannes Wojuola had the guts to say that the word “uniform” is the corporate outfit (dressing allowance) to be enjoyed by all the staff.

“The Presidency’s proposed budget for 2022 stands at N150.5bn and the sum of 24.8bn was budgeted for the President.

It was budgeted that the President will spend the sum of N775.6m for his local travel and transport while the sum of N1.5bn will be spent on International travel and transport.

“The 2022 budget of the Vice President stands at N1.1bn. The Vice President is to spend the sum of 301.9m for his local travel and transport while the sum of N476.2m will be spent on International travel and transport. N6.3m will be spent on office stationeries/computer consumables. The sum of N4.6m will be spent on printing of non-security documents. 

“The Vice President’s food stuff/catering material supplies stand at N156.6m. miscellaneous is N99.7m, refreshment & meals is earmarked N20.2m while honorarium & sitting allowance is N30.2m. The Vice President is to spend N18.8m on publicity & advertisement, N23.2m on welfare packages and N5.4m on sporting activities.”

Melaye made reference to the Open Budget Index where Nigeria is ranked 90th on budget transparency out of 115 countries globally. 

“The Anti-Corruption Network wishes to place it on record and also let the whole world know that the budgeting system in Nigeria is currently used by Nigerian government officials and public officers to regularly misappropriate public funds. 

“Thus, despite the country’s wealth of vast natural (notably crude oil) and human resources, a huge proportion of its population lives in poverty, largely due to the dual woes of government corruption and poor leadership”, he stated.  

He alleged that the National Assembly was not left out in these corrupt activities as they have compromised and betrayed the trust of their electorates.

“They have failed in their primary assignment of checking the excesses of the executive arm of the government and are now working in partnership in perpetrating this miasma called budgeting fraud. They have turned a blind eye to huge sum of money budgeted for imaginary projects under the guise of budget padding.”

He called on the executive to adopt a yearly publication of the appropriation bills before sending to the legislative arms.