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BudgIT demands location of 22 projects worth N2.1billion

By Matthew Ogune, Abuja
19 February 2022   |   3:09 am
A group, BudgIT, has urged the Federal Government to disclose the locations of over 22 zonal intervention projects worth over N2billion.
BudgIT co-founder

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A group, BudgIT, has urged the Federal Government to disclose the locations of over 22 zonal intervention projects worth over N2billion.

BudgIT Head of Tracka, Uadamen Ilevbaoje, who made the call yesterday in Abuja at the official launch of Tracka’s Zonal Intervention Projects Report, revealed that between January 2020 and June 2021, the group tracked 1,439 zonal intervention projects. He claimed that by the time of tracking, 288 of the projects had not started, 21 were abandoned while the locations of 357 were not specified.

According to Ilevbaoje, within the period under review, Tracka also tracked 1,826 federal consolidated projects and discovered that 646 had been completed, 316 were ongoing, 335 had not started, 112 had been abandoned while locations of 417 were not specified.

He blamed the development on the lack of effective project monitoring and secrecy in the preparation and implementation of the budget.

“In the 2020 Zonal Intervention Projects list, our investigation revealed that the locations of over 22 project line items worth over N2.1 billion remain unknown. In all, N39million was budgeted for the provision of potable water at Pindiga, Tunfure and other parts of Akko Federal Constituency in Gombe State while N15million was budgeted for the drilling of two boreholes and overhead tanks in Maiyama Local Government Area, Kebbi Central Senatorial District, Kebbi State.

“However, these projects were difficult to track due to unspecified locations. MDAs need to provide precise project locations so that citizens have access to, and are able to monitor them. This will reduce chances of corruption by way of diversion of projects funds for personal needs,” he said.

Ilevbaoje said his group also found that elected representatives were directly involved in distributing empowerment grants to select beneficiaries through direct cash payment instead of bank transfer.

“In Ondo, N23.7million was budgeted in the 2020 Zonal Intervention Projects for the strategic empowerment for women in Okitipupa/Irele Federal Constituency.

“Across the wards, only a hundred beneficiaries received N20, 000 as start-up capital after the training. When confronted about this, Gboluga lkengboju, the lawmaker representing the constituency, said he gave the women N20,000, but he had previously awarded N100,000 each to 200 women in the constituency.

“There was no way to refute his claim as there was no paperwork to track the grant distribution. If the grants had been awarded through bank transfer, electronic bank statements would have been provided to ensure it was carried out. Empowerment grants are by nature opaque: How are project beneficiaries selected? How is the grant payment verifiable especially when they are cash payments?

“In Bayelsa, N18million was budgeted to the three LGAs under Bayelsa East Senatorial District for a strategic empowerment programme for youths. At the end of the project, about 100 beneficiaries received an undisclosed amount of money in an envelope.

“It is not strange to see many executed projects falling apart not long after execution. While some communities charge themselves with the responsibility of project maintenance, it is unsustainable. A case in point is in the Federal Capital Territory Senatorial District where N50million was budgeted for the construction of ten solar-powered boreholes.

“Even though the project is completed, it has stopped working due to poor maintenance. If the purpose of the project is to deliver what will impact citizens’ lives, project maintenance should be integral to the process. Who is responsible for project maintenance? What happens when a project stops delivering to the people? The agencies involved in the budgeting and project execution process need to develop a sustainability plan so that projects are not only mementoes of politicians’ tenures in office but serve the people long after.”

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