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Civic group tasks Fashola on transparency in power, works ministry

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A Nigerian civil society organisation, Budgit, has called on the Minister for Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, to uphold transparency and ensure detailed disclosure of utilisation of funds released to his ministry for capital projects in 2016.

In a statement two weeks ago, Mr. Fashola’s office declared that “no new contracts have been awarded to date based on 2016 Appropriation and; as such no single kobo has been paid.”

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But Budgit in a statement made available to PREMIUM TIMES by its head, Olusegun Onigbinde, expressed worry at the minister’s declaration, asking him to disclose how funds released to his ministry under the 2016 budget was used.

The financial document released by the Office of the Accountant General revealed a sum of N170,425,193,94 was released to the Ministry as at October 2016 from a total capital budget of N353 billion.

“If the funds released to the Ministry of Works, Power and Housing are meant for old projects, what projects did the Ministry spend N170 billion on?” Mr. Onigbinde wrote.

“The Ministry of Works, Power and Housing should provide information on the projects currently being implemented, the actual cost released for each project, name of the contractors and the locations of the projects.

“This is a basic requirement to measure the judicious utilisation of public funds by any public office.”

The organisation said its previous demand for detailed information on the utilisation of funds released for federal capital projects had not been honoured since December 2016.

The Ministry of Finance said N753 billion had been released to fund capital projects as at October 2016.

“But it was without comprehensive details of projects the fund was released for,” Budgit said.

“We did not request for nuclear codes nor details that could be dubbed as ‘threats to National Security’; we have only requested that governance functions the way it ought to.

“It is a common knowledge that government fails when citizens do not hold trust in the dealings of an administration hence the necessity to ensure there is mutual trust between government and the citizens through transparency.

“We have chewed this on many occasions that there is a deliberate attempt to keep citizens out of loop with respect to information. The lack of responsible public information breeds bad perception. The implication of this singular act could be measured on investment and investors who struggle to trust an opaque system with funds.

“The Federal Government’s anti-graft war needs more openness to work efficiently.”

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