‘Why There Was Massive Fraud In The 2016 Budget.’ – CLO


Following the massive fraud that has allegedly been uncovered in the 2016 Budget proposal brought before the National Assembly, a call for an immediate reconstitution of federal boards has been made by The Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO), who believes that the fraud is as a result of the non-reconstitution of the Boards of Federal Government agencies, parastatals and commissions, whose tenure expired or were dissolved by the Federal Government.

In the opinion of the CLO, this development is dangerous because it has a negative effect on good governance and may likely lead to further degeneration of the security challenges already facing the country, Vanguard reports.

The statement additionally said that in the opinion of most Nigerians, the act is a breach of the enabling laws establishing those institutions, agencies and parastatals.

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The Executive Director of the organisation, Comrade Ibuchukwu Ohabuenyi Ezike, who issued the statement on behalf of the group said,

It will be recalled that the boards of some federal agencies, commissions and parastatals were dissolved in 2015. Nigerians had hoped that, latest, by January, 2016, all things being equal, these Boards would have been reconstituted and effective operations of governance set in motion. Unfortunately, this has not happened. Even as some other Boards are being dissolved, none of the previous ones has been reconstituted.

While we feel that this may have contributed immensely to the massive frauds in the 2016 Budget proposals before the National Assembly, we are aware that the non-reconstitution of some of these Boards may be giving rise to the emerging security threats in certain parts of the country like in the Niger Delta where the ethnic rights activists popularly called “militants” are gearing up for actions. Many analysts argue that if the Boards of some of these agencies were put in place before the 2016 budget preparation, they would have been able to minimise or reduce the preponderance of frauds in the document which, today, presents Nigeria as a banana society before the world.

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CLO checks reveal that Agencies like the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) which was set up to address some of the nagging issues in the Niger Delta region is one of such government agencies which Boards have been dissolved since last year but have not been reconstituted. Human rights, especially environmental rights activists, in the region lament that the regrouping of the former “militants” is “not unconnected with the non-appointment of NDDC Board”. They allege that NDDC is currently being run by “a sole administrator” who does not have the authority and capacity of a legal Board to address most of the issues demanding for urgent attention from the Commission by the peoples and communities of the region.

Labour and civil society actors have also argued in the same regard with respect to the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) that regulates the activities of the electricity distribution companies in the country. Labour/Civil Society Coalition (LASCO) had protested on Monday, February 8, 2016, across the country to demand the reversal of the astronomical hike in the electricity tariffs without commensurate efficient services rendered by the service providers in the industry. Some analysts blame the crisis again on the lack of adequate consultations with the stakeholders in the sector and without considering the fact that the hike was introduced when Nigerians are groaning in economic pains and hardship. CLO salutes the Senate of the Federation for calming nerves on the issue by ordering NERC to suspend the tariff hike.

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Several other federal agencies whose Boards have been dissolved but not reconstituted are passing through similar difficulties in executing its activities meant to serve the needs of Nigerians.

Apart from the above, the inauguration of these Boards will widen the political space by creating employment opportunities both for the politicians and Nigerians and will go a long way in reducing the incidences of joblessness and tension by a certain percentage in our country.

In line with the foregoing, therefore, CLO demands that the APC led federal government and, specifically President Muhammadu Buhari, as a matter of urgency, appoint and inaugurate the Boards for all the federal government agencies, parastatals and commissions whose Boards have been dissolved. This, we reason, will assist the government set in motion the machinery of governance to begin to execute, in full, its campaign promises to Nigerians in 2015. Further delay may cause more damaging but avoidable crisis and rubbish the change project of the APC government that Nigerians are anxiously waiting to enjoy.”

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Meanwhile, the National Assembly has postponed the passage of the 2016 budget indefinitely following ”discrepancies, errors and ambiguities ” inherent in the budget proposal.