Nigeria’s budgetary system is corrupt ― Ngige

...says there were distortions and insertions of questionable projects

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige has slammed Nigeria’s Budgetary system, describing it as corrupt and full of distortions and insertions of questionable projects under the guise of “constituency projects.”

Delivering his valedictory speech in Abuja on Monday, the Minister declared that “all is not well with our budgetary system.”

“However, all is not well with our budgetary system. In our 2016, 2017 and 2018 budgets, there were distortions and insertions under the guise of ‘constituency projects’, that greatly affected the performance of our programmes and projects.” Ngige said.

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According to him, “the above-named budgets of the Ministry present an interesting chronicle. From a 2015 budget that had only N200,000,000.00 for the capital vote, out of which about N60,000,000.00 was for Constituency Empowerment Projects, spiraling into April 2016 for the main Ministry to the phenomenal increase of both recurrent and capital budget to N11 billion in 2016 and N12 billion in 2017 and 2018 respectively.

“We have to put in place a proper budgetary procedure and process using our wealth of experience. My pedigree as a budget officer while in the Federal Ministry of Health, State Chief Executive Officer and Senator and that of the Hon Minister of State as a professional Accountant came into play in repackaging the Planning, Research and Statistics Department and that of Finance and Accounts, making them assume their rightful roles as the Ministry’s engine head in budget matters. We defended our positions appropriately in the relevant committees of the House of Representatives and the Senate.

“The 2019 budget though not yet signed into law by the President but there is a huge improvement from the 2015 position to a better resource situation for the Ministry and her parastatals as of today.”

He added: “There is a great difference between the zonal intervention constituency projects from the N100 billion offered to the National Assembly by the Executive in her proposal. There are insertions of ‘questionable projects’ with money sliced-off from the aggregate allocation to main Ministries and their parastatals to create new and in many cases, projects and programmes unrelated to the core mandate of the ministry/parastatal.

“This is clearly not in consonance with the spirit of Section 80 of the constitution for which the authors of the constitution gave powers to the elected representatives of the people to look at the budgets, which when presented by the Executives, still remains an executive work proposal.

“Therefore, let the NASS consult the Executive via robust defense sessions in order to allow the Executive to do its own work unfettered.”

The Minister stated further: “In this light, it is completely incongruous and serious act of indiscipline against the Public Service Rules (PSR) for Heads of Treasury and Non-Treasury funded parastatals to surreptitiously visit lawmakers to suggest to them or connive with them to disrupt already agreed budgets especially those they had defended in their respective Ministries.

“Some Chief Executive Officers of the parastatals in the ministry had lately engaged in this act and should retrace their steps as we move to the next level.”

He advised that Budget funding up to 100% should also be the target of Government as anything less than 75% distorts programmes and projects execution.

According to him, this resulted in late completion; and in some cases abandonment of the projects in subsequent Budget cycles.

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