FG Allocates N81.7bn for Streetlights Construction in 2023 Budget, Higher Than Total Amount for Schools and PHCs Combined.

By Nancy Odimegwu

Tracka, BudgIT’s service delivery promotion platform, which allows citizens to collaborate, track and give feedback on public projects in their communities, has discovered that a total of N81.7 billion was allocated to the construction of solar street lights in the 2023 FG Capital and Constituency projects.

This is higher than the total allocation to schools and primary health centers, which gulp N77.9 billion and N3.1 billion, respectively, in the budget. In 2022, a UNESCO report tagged Nigeria’s out-of-school children figures at 20 million, a staggering 52% increase from the 10.5 million reported by UNICEF in 2020. Nigeria’s child mortality rate is the second-highest in the world, and maternal mortality is at 576 per 100,000 live births, the fourth-highest in the world.

In a country plagued with these critical issues, dwindling revenue, and a failing economy, the bogus allocation to streetlights is a gross misplacement of priority. Nigeria is also presently littered with non-functional and vandalized streetlights that have stopped working less than two years after their construction.

Our analysis also discovered that over 687 projects worth N112billion were allocated to agencies outside their mandate. The Nigerian Army was allocated N4.5 billion for the Construction of Dengi-Kwalmiya-Gagdi-Wawus Bauchi Road in Plateau State, Nigerian Institute of Oceanography and Marine Research was assigned N1.2 billion across four projects to supply medical equipment to health centers in Ogun State, and N580 million was allocated to National Root Crops Research Institute, Umudike, to construct roads and streetlights in Abia State, amongst many others.

The Acting Head of Tracka, Ayomide Ladipo, expressed her displeasure over this development.

“The implications of assigning projects to agencies out of their mandate is that it undermines monitoring, evaluation, and the sustainability of these projects. These agencies lack the expertise and personnel to ensure quality service delivery of these projects, leading to projects under-delivery and a colossal waste of taxpayers’ money and scarce resources.

An example is the News Agency of Nigeria which was allocated N200 million to construct solar streetlights in Rivers State. What business does NAN have with streetlights?” Ayomide said.

Tracka discovered a 21% reduction in the percentage of empowerment projects this year compared to last year, where N58 billion of N100 billion was allocated to empowerment projects in 2022, while N37 billion of N100 billion was allocated to empowerment projects in 2023.

This is progress as it is the first time in three years that the percentage of empowerment projects in the ZIP will be less than 50%. We strongly advise against empowerment projects being a large chunk of ZIPs as they are mostly vague and challenging to track. These empowerment projects have also been used as a funnel to transfer political benefits to party loyalists.

In the 2022 budget expenditure, from www.govspend.ng , we uncovered N10 billion in payments made to 18 personal accounts for vague services. Amongst them, the Office Of The Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta directly paid a total of N4 billion to two personal accounts—N2 billion to one Dasimaka Adokiye Sami across 12 transactions mostly tagged ‘Being payment of bulk stipends to the 2,802 ex-agitators of ateke tom camp in phase 1 as approved by the ia’ and another N2 Million was paid to Ebikabowei Victor Ben across 27 transactions mostly tagged ‘Being bulk payment to the 500 delegates of boyloaf camp 2 phase 2 as approved by the ia.’

These payments are a clear violation of section 713 of the Public Sector Financial Regulations, 2009, which reads as follows:

“713 Personal money shall in no circumstances be paid into a government bank account, nor shall any public money be paid into a private bank account. An officer who pays public money into a private account is deemed to have done so with fraudulent intention.”

As the aforementioned provision states, by this action, a prima facie allegation of fraudulent intention exists.

Tracka calls on Nigerians to question and probe these anomalies in the 2022 and 2023 budget expenditures. We also call on elected representatives to duly perform oversight functions, provide timely updates to the public, carry citizens along, and ensure the quality implementation of the projects they nominated so that citizens can derive maximum benefits from public funds.

Ag. Head: Media, Design and Communications
Oladayo Olufowose