BudgIT, a civil society organisation with an emphasis on budget and public finance issues, has alleged that the sums of N278 billion and N51 billion respectively were paid by the current Federal Government into the bank accounts of individuals.
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BudgIT made the claim in the publication of a report on the Open Treasury portal entitled: “OpenTreasury.gov.ng: Nigeria’s Spending Platform: Review, Gaps & Recommendations”, which was published on Thursday.
According to a statement signed by Damilola Ogundipe, BudgIT Communications Lead, the organisation said it analysed data from September 2018 to May 2020 and analysed over 100,000 payments.
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Noting that it analysed payments from over 600 distinct spreadsheets combined with budget implementation spreadsheets, the CSO claimed that it noticed a pattern of “vague” payments made into personal bank accounts without any proper description.
It claimed that over 2,900 payments totalling N51 billion were paid into individual accounts from January to July 2019.
The CSO also claimed that 5,000 payments valued at N278 billion were also paid to beneficiaries without any proper description.
The statement read: “Between January and July 2019, we discovered that large sums were paid into personal accounts; including several records with vague description. Over 2,900 payments to individuals were recorded at an aggregate value of N51bn. A few examples include, N2.04bn, N2.04bn and N1bn paid into personal accounts on the 21st of June 2019 without any payment description along with another N68m payment for “ogunsuyi” and N15.8m for “international” on the other dates.
“In the same 2019, we also discovered payment records without descriptions or beneficiary information. At least 5,000 payment records valued at N278bn were without descriptions and N275 payment records with a value of N43bn were without beneficiary name. These inconspicuous payments cannot be assessed or traced by citizens and interested parties, thereby defeating the purpose of the platform to foster transparency.”
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The CSO’s report made several recommendations, including improvising user experience on the open portal platform, increasing transparency for data available and the government engaging with citizens and stakeholders beyond the platform.
“For the Open Treasury portal to fully achieve its ambitious and worthy purpose of increasing public financing transparency and consequently improve accountability, it needs to be as easy to use and comprehend by citizens and interested parties, and each of the above questions need to be addressed,” Ojiugo Uche, Research Lead of BudgIT, said.
The Open Treasury Portal was launched by the Federal Government on December 9, 2019.