As the reality of the return of January to December in Nigeria’s budgeting cycle sets in, it is imperative to note that out of the 1,497 Constituency Projects earmarked for completion in 2018, by the Federal Government across the states, only 32 per cent (475) were completed.
This implies that the import of budgeting, now seen as more of an annual ritual, is not just about the proposals and provisions, but more in the execution and implementation for it to have meaning and impact on ordinary Nigerians, whose future are being decided by their elected representatives.
Latest report by Tracka, a project monitoring platform by BudgIT, which is meant to enhance the implementation of capital projects across the country, identified poor implementation as the bane of successive budgets.
At the launch of the 2018 Tracka Federal Constituency Projects Tracking Report, in Lagos, yesterday, surveys were conducted in 26 states between June 2018 and November 2019.
Specifically, from the 2018 Zonal Intervention Projects, a total number of 1,497 projects were tracked, while 475 projects were completed; 144 are currently ongoing; 536 are yet to commence; 42 considered as abandoned, and whooping 224 projects had unspecified locations.
Recall that Zonal Intervention Projects (popularly known as Constituency Projects) are public projects nominated by federal lawmakers to extend the dividends of democratic government to their various constituencies in the quest to unleash development at the grassroots level of the country.
The report enunciates the most critical challenges of Constituency Projects in 2018, and highlighted some viable solutions to those challenges.
Head, Tracka,Uadamen Ilevbaoje, explained that its (Tracka’s) ultimate goal is to open up public finances to the wider Nigerian populace, making them vanguards for service delivery and transparency.
Ilevbaoje said Tracka expands citizens’ understanding of the budget, in particular on the contextual issues affecting them, empowering them to demand accountability and budget implementation.
BudgIT explained that some challenges observed during the project tracking were the proliferation of empowerment items, alleged contract inflation, unspecified project locations, inadequate supply of equipment and materials to uncompleted structures, use of substandard products and poor civic unawareness of budgetary provisions.
It consequently recommended in the report that strategic allocation of funds is crucial and the design of empowerment projects calls for deeper thought.
According to Ilevbaoje, Tracka also discovered that only 30 per cent of funds have been released for 2019 constituency projects (as at the time this report was prepared). “We make bold to declare that poor release of funds for these projects will continue to affect implementation across the country.”
He informed that the influence of the platform is spreading through its focus on communities. “We have a presence in 586 local government areas across 26 states in Nigeria. We have tracked over 15,859 projects in 7,589 towns and organised over 7,612 town hall meetings across the country. With increasing appeal for this project, we plan to scale to all the 36 states of the federation
“We are also glad to have fruitful collaboration with agencies of government like the ICPC to give credence and effectiveness to our project tracking initiative.
“We call on government across all tiers to make concerted efforts to ensure citizens benefit from dividends of democracy. BudgIT plans to reach out to the leadership of the National Assembly on improving the nomination process of constituency projects,” Ilevbaoje stated.