Funds were withheld for duplicated projects in the 2021 budget, Mr Ben Akabueze who is the Director-General of the Budget Office of the Federation said on Friday.
He made the disclosure during an interview on Sunrise Daily where he spoke about the measures taken by the Budget Office to prevent wastage of the government’s funds.
Akabueze, a chartered accountant, revealed that the Budget Office took the necessary measure after the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) uncovered some duplicated projects in a report.
“The ICPC came up with a report which they sent to us about duplicated projects that they found in the budget,” he said. “We did our own review (and) we found that 54 of those projects were not actually duplications but there were issues with project descriptions – project descriptions which made them look the same, but they were not the same.
“Every project in the budget has a unique identifier and the ones which were found to indeed be duplicated, funding was withheld from such projects. There were 185 from the list we received; 185 (projects) were found to be duplicated, 54 were not.”
Chairman of the ICPC, Bolaji Owasanoye, had disclosed that 257 projects amounting to N20.138 billion were duplicated in the 2021 budget.
According to the anti-graft agency chief, the commission tracked 1,083 projects across the country. But the exercise could not be conducted in Borno and Zamfara due to the security situation in the states.
Akabueze, on his part, believes it is the responsibility of the ICPC to take necessary actions against those involved in the duplication of projects in the nation’s budget.
He stressed that the best the Budget Office could do was to withhold the release of funds for such a purpose to help the nation save its resources.
“We have our own job description, we have the limit of our own authority,” the accountant stated. “When it (duplicated project) is discovered, the most – on our own part – that we can do is withhold release of funds to those specific projects.
“The ICPC has already reported. They have investigative powers, so they actually pull in the people involved to investigate whether these are willful actions to defraud the government or whether they are erroneous. They are the ones with the authority to do so, we don’t (have such authority).”