At a time Nigeria is expected to be very frugal and meticulous amid dwindling revenue, Ripples Nigeria has uncovered how six Federal Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies executed 22 transactions worth N287million in the first two months of 2022 without indication of what the payments were meant for.
The development not only violates principles of open contracting and financial regulations, it also implies that civic organizations or interested Nigerians cannot trace payments at any time for purposes of accountability.
The gap in payments were discovered in Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria, Administrative staff college of Nigeria, Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi, African Regional Centre for Space Education, Ile-Ife, Osun State, Federal Government College, Odikologuna, University of Calabar and National Lottery Regulatory Commission.
Payment data analysis of the Open Treasury Portal from January to February shows that the N287million non-descriptive payments comprise 22 payments made to various ministries, parastatals, banks and others.
A breakdown of the figures showed that N195.14 million was paid in February while N89.4 million of untraceable payments were made in February.
For instance, in January, a payment coded 1000900566-3 and valued at N50 Million was executed by University of Calabar to Kwao Investments Ltd account without description.
The same January, Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria made N38.9 million payment to Emraj Global Services Limited without stating why the payment was made.
In fact, Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria executed similar payments 8 times between January and February worth a total of N113.1 million.
The Administrative Staff College of Nigeria was also guilty of such untraceable payments 8 times. The biggest of such payments was made with the code number 1000899160-21 to Tamusa Nig. Ltd worth N24.57 million.
Another payment with code number 1000899160-34 was made to Tamusa Nig. Ltd without description worth 14.49 million. The deal shows a total payment of N39.6 million without a single project attached to it.
Details of other untraceable payments can be find in the table below.
Breach of law
The Federal government, on December 1 2019, launched the Open Treasury Portal to increase transparency and accountability in governmental activities.
The portal aims to provide a comprehensive space for the collation of data by all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) on budget implementation and financial records.
The directive reads, “The Accountant-General of the Federation (AGF) must publish a daily treasury statement which will provide information about what came into the national purse and what went out every single day. I repeat every single day. Henceforth, treasury is required to publish this information unfailingly. The AGF and all accounting officers must publish daily payments reports.”
“With these reports, the treasury will publish payments of at least N10 million while all MDAs must publish payments above N5 million made out of all public funds under their purview. The information to be published must include the MDA responsible, the beneficiary, the purpose and the amount of each payment. Accounting officers are responsible for providing answers to any questions from the public relating to transactions completed by entities under their charge.”
Negligence as a tool of destruction
Ripples Nigeria had in an earlier report detailed how MDAs paid N7.3bn for unnamed projects.
The report discovered that some of the payments were made to companies without records and unqualified.
The continuous violation of the Open Treasury Portal for tracking spent public funds once again shows how deeply entrenched corruption is in Nigeria.
During political campaigns in 2014, corruption was a key word used by President Muhammadu Buhari to market his presidency.
Sadly, however, Nigeria’s Corruption Perception Index (CPI), has yet to improve.
According to the 2021 Corruption Perception Index (CPI), Nigeria was ranked 154 most corrupt country out of 180.
In its ranking, CPI specifically highlighted bribery, diversion of public funds, and officials using their public office for private gain without facing consequences among others.
With President Buhari’s tenure coming to a close in a year, questions on what legacy he will leave behind and how well he has conquered corruption, which he pledged to fight in 2014, will continue to reverberate.