Leverage On Technology, Whistleblowing In Tackling Budget Fraud, Tope Fasua Urges FG

Following the persistent loss of public funds to corruption, the Federal Government of Nigeria has been advised to prioritize technology and whistleblowing in addressing budget fraud.

It will be recalled a civic-tech non-profit organization, BudgIT, had recently revealed it uncovered 460 duplicated projects valued at N378.9bn in the 2022 Appropriation Act, hence, indicted the National Assembly, State House, and Federal Government’s Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of one infraction or the other.
Renowned economist and businessman Dr Tope Fasua led the call during the anti-corruption radio program, PUBLIC CONSCIENCE on RADIO, produced by the Progressive Impact Organization for Community Development, PRIMORG, on Wednesday in Abuja.
Fasua, who described the budget as an essential document that guides the nation’s yearly spending, lamented that fraud and inconsistencies in the national budget had become an annual occurrence.
While underscoring the need for fundamental reforms to reduce stealing of public funds in Nigeria, He identified technology as a critical tool for addressing inflation of budget items and duplication of projects, amongst other corrupt acts and adding that Nigeria should take a cue from the United States and other advanced countries in seeking ways to tackle corruption in the government.
“Technology seems to be very critical, and as much as we can invest in that, it is essential. What we should also do is to try and benchmark and check how the use of technology in budgeting runs in a place like the United States.
“We can also leverage on conducting research and also begin to reform our minds to say these problems that we have in Nigeria, can we make it work? But technology is prime on my mind. We have to invest in technology and be truthful to ourselves. Also, the government must continue to encourage the civil society agencies and the people to do our duty.”
According to Fasua, Nigeria’s annual budget remains one of the lowest globally. Unfortunately, the meager amount at the nation’s disposal is massively challenged by corruption, with a proper needs assessment of the masses always overlooked before the legislature passes budgets.
He also expressed doubts over the acclaimed daily petrol consumption figures by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the plan to spend N3 trillion on fuel subsidy payment in the next 18 months, calling on the government to change its spending on the wrong priorities.

PRIMORG TEAM with Tope Fasua and Ayoade Olatokewa

On her part, News Editor at 99.9 Kiss FM, Ayoade Olatokewa, called on the Federal Government to take advantage of whistleblowing to fight corruption in budgeting, stating that the recurring discrepancies in the budgets over the years shows that the executive arm of the government and the legislature were collaborating to rip Nigerians off.
Olatokewa hailed President Muhammadu Buhari for urging the National Assembly for the timely passage of three bills – the Proceeds of Crime Bill, Whistle-Blower Bill, and the Witness Protection Bill recently; She encouraged the president to continue the push for the lawmakers to harmonize and pass into law the whistleblower bills at their disposal which will, in turn, reduce public sector corruption.
She said the ambiguities of the budget might be the main reason some citizens are not interested in national budgets. Hence, she called on Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to scale up their activities in breaking down the budget for ordinary Nigerians to understand.
Olatokewa lamented that anti-corruption agencies are not strengthened enough to fight corruption in the public sector due to politics and doubted the likelihood of President Buhari supporting anti-corruption agencies with the time left in his tenure of office.
It will also be recalled that the Whistleblowing Advocacy Coalition (WAC) recently joined President Buhari in pleading with President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan; and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, to swiftly harmonise and pass the Proceeds of Crime Bill, Whistle-Blower Bill and the Witness Protection Bill which they (WAC) described as “the best possible version” of three main anti-corruption bills.
Public Conscience is a syndicated weekly anti-corruption radio program used by PRIMORG to draw government and citizens’ attention to corruption and integrity issues in Nigeria.
The program has the support of the MacArthur Foundation.

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