SERAP Demands Probe of 316 Duplicated Projects in 2021 Budget

May 9, 2021
316 Duplicated Projects

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to probe the duplication of 316 projects in the 2021 budget he signed into law in December 2020.

SERAP made the request via a statement issued on Sunday by its Deputy Director, Mr Kolawole Oluwadare. The group also asked Mr Buhari to direct the Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, to carry out the investigation.

The organisation wants the Minister to also “investigate ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) and members of the National Assembly suspected to be responsible for inserting N39.5 billion” for the 316 duplicated projects.

“Any such investigation should establish whether public funds have been mismanaged, diverted or stolen in the guise of implementing the duplicated and mysterious projects,” the statement also demanded.

“Anyone suspected to be responsible should face prosecution as appropriate, if there is sufficient admissible evidence, and any stolen public funds should be fully recovered,” it added.

According to SERAP, the misallocation of public funds for duplicated and mysterious projects has seriously undermined the ability of the indicted MDAs, noting that the government should ensure respect for Nigerians’ human rights through developing and implementing well-thought-out policies, plans, and budgets.

It also expressed concerns that the N39.5 billion duplicated and mysterious projects may have been used as a ploy to divert and steal vital resources from MDAs.

The statement added, “Budget allocations and expenditure ought to be well-suited to ensure access of Nigerians to basic public services, and responsive to the people’s needs in order to prevent corruption or unnecessary or wasteful spending.”

Business Post reports that last week, an organisation known as BudgIT revealed that there were 316 duplicated capital projects worth N39.5 billion in the 2021 budget worth N13.588 trillion.

The ministries reportedly involved in the duplicated and mysterious projects are Ministry of Health with 115 projects; Ministry of Information and Culture with 40 projects; Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development with 25 projects; Ministry of Education with 23 projects; Ministry of Transportation with 17 projects; and Ministry of Science and Technology with 17 projects.

“Others are the Ministry of Environment with 13 projects; Ministry of Power with 11 projects; Ministry of Labour and Employment with 11 projects, and Ministry of Water Resources with 10 projects.

For SERAP, this development suggests a grave violation of the public trust and Nigerians’ rights to education, health, water, sanitation, and a clean and satisfactory environment because the indicted MDAs have misallocated public funds at the expense of the people’s access to basic public services, and enjoyment of rights.

The group informed the President that “investigating and prosecuting any allegations of mismanagement, diversion and stealing of public funds budgeted for the 316 duplicated and mysterious projects would allow your government to use the budget to effectively promote Nigerians’ access to essential public goods and services.”

“It would also enable your government to meet Nigeria’s human rights obligations in the way the MDAs under your leadership and supervision allocate, spend and audit the budget,” it added.

“Publishing the ‘implementation status’ of the duplicated and mysterious projects would allow Nigerians to hold their government to account in the spending of public funds. This is particularly true for marginalized and excluded groups, such as people living in poverty, women, children, and persons with disabilities, as the budget has a disproportionate impact on their welfare.”

“We would be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within 14 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, the Incorporated Trustees of SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel your government to comply with our request in the public interest.”

“The revelations also suggest that the indicted MDAs lack transparent, accountable, effective and credible budgeting processes to prevent and combat corruption. SERAP is concerned that the Federal Government has not complied with Nigeria’s obligations under international human rights law,” SERAP said.

Also, it urged the Minister of Finance Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, to publish full details of the current implementation status of the duplicated and mysterious projects, adding that, “any spending on the projects to date, including the 115 projects inserted in the budget of the Ministry of Health; the 23 projects inserted in the budget of the Ministry of Education, and 10 projects inserted in the budget of the Ministry of Water Resources.”

Adedapo Adesanya

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

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