REVEALED: The constituency project scam used by lawmakers and government agencies

The unfortunate act of budget padding in Nigeria has become an official tactic in the corruption circle – running through the finance and planning process of supposed project execution.

It is well known that individuals, organisations and nations engage in budgeting. It is seen as a master plan for any government, as it brings together estimates of anticipated revenues and proposed expenditures.

And, knowing that the budget is a fiscal document, it also contains a unified view of the financial direction of a given government.

But what is padding?

In this case, to pad – according to Merriam Webster – is to “expand or increase especially with needless, misleading, or fraudulent matter.”

In the sense of a budget, padding means to make the proposal larger than the actual estimates for the project and, to be more explicit, to add unassigned projects in the budget that cannot be traced to anyone.

We cannot deny that it is quite suspicious that while you go through the budget of the National Assembly (Senate and House of Representatives), you begin to find untraceable projects that have millions attached to them. Besides, prior to this time, Nigeria’s National Assembly has failed to provide details of its budget until the #OpenNASS campaign which forced the NASS leadership to release its budget details.

Lawmakers will rather go about doing substandard boreholes, giving out motorcycles and/or sewing machines to ten people, receiving praises from the constituents who think that they have used their own money to execute these projects.

Padding in constituency projects have continued and guess what we discovered while scrutinising details of the 2018 constituency projects?

Padding is a social evil. It is not enough that members of the National Assembly receive very high allowances but they go ahead to hide projects that have no designation and no way to trace them.

The rancour about budget padding became news when Hon. Abdulmumin Jibrin representing Kiru/Bebeji federal constituency in Kano revealed extensive budget fraud by lawmakers.

Jibrin accused the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara; Deputy Speaker, Lasun Yussuf; the Chief Whip, Alhassan Ado-Doguwa; and the Minority Leader, Leo Ogor, of padding the 2016 budget with over N30 billion illicit constituency projects. He was, thereafter, suspended for a good 18 months.

He came back from the suspension and dropped another hint of padding in the 2018 budget.

RELATED: Will Jibrin’s meeting with Buhari ensure his return to the lower chamber?

The former chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations has also hinted at the possibility of a fresh budget fraud in the 2018 Appropriation Bill recently passed by the National Assembly.

“I resumed work in good time to catch up with Budget 2018. Has anything changed in our appropriation process and the budget itself since 2016? Within the week, I will be sharing my perspectives and discussing some details of the budget. I will gladly answer your questions as well,” Jibrin tweeted.

He also said some other time, “I would rather say there is corruption in the House of Representatives. Not only that there is corruption, there is institutional corruption and these are things that I can also prove and these are all the second layer of what my struggle is going to be about.”

He did not just drop a hint with his tweet, he was actually pointing us to the fact that the 2018 budget is a document filled with so many fraudulent projects and when you count, if you have the time, you will find 46 projects in that manner and the monies amount to a whopping N2,950,008,920 (N2.95 billion) – that is approximately N3 billion.

RELATED: Dogara denies giving $20,000 to members of Appropriation Committee (READ) 

Some of the unassigned projects in the 2018 Appropriation Act include a N37 million budgeted to train youth on film and video production; N5 million for sensitisation of markets; construction of Type C PHCs in 10 locations – N420 million; 100 popcorn machines – N3 million; supply of ICT equipment and accessories – N500 million, among others.

RELATED: “National Assembly must open its budget” | Hon Jibrin recommends 10 way NASS can fix its battered image 

See other projects in the images below:

Also see the full bugdet here: 2018 constituency projects.

Democratic principles are pertinent to drive the future of a country, especially one like ours where we are just going round circles, but with low moral standards, lack of ethics and financial discipline.

Padding has become a culture in Nigeria and the National Assembly, in collaboration with government agencies continue to plummet into this perpetual cycle of corruption and misappropriation.

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