Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission, Prof Bolaji Owasanoye, has said that budget paddling was still prevalent in Nigeria, stressing that many government agencies take more money than they need to pay salaries.
Owasanoye spoke in Abuja on Thursday while giving the report of the phase one of constituency project tracking initiated by the commission.
He said the second phase would begin in the first quarter of 2020.
He said, “We broke down the 2019 budget and we are going to announce publicly what project is allocated to each state. People can call ICPC and ask for it and we will tell them what project they should expect. This is much more effective way of fighting corruption.
“Part of our prevention mandate is to go into government agencies and look at how public fund is used. A month ago, we restrained N9.2bn from going out (of government purse). What happened was that when we looked at the budget and what has been appropriated and how it was to be used, I can tell you authoritatively that there is still budget padding.
“This is because the oversight is not strong enough. If you have personnel vote that is not exhausted and people do not complain that salaries have not been paid, you can tell that someone has made budget proposal of more than what is needed to pay salary. The agency involved did not dispute it and we informed the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning.
“The figure has moved because it is an ongoing exercise. As at this morning (Thursday), we found an additional N3.2bn. Hopefully, by the time we finish, we would have found more money and saved government personnel cost.”
Owasanoye added that ICPC also found out how agencies breached financial regulations, saying that to cover up extra budget collected, they employ people hurriedly and backdate their employment date. He noted that 59 directors of an agency were arrested over movement of over N3bn through their bank accounts.
He however said that in some cases, the head of the agencies were not aware of the fraudulent practices going on under them.
“Some of the constituency tracking and system review will lead to investigation and prosecution,” he added.
Owasanoye said the agency preferred to recover government money unjustifiably spent by politicians who collected them for constituency projects than going through lengthy and expensive prosecution.
Owasanoye disagreed with Academic Staff Union of Universities over its opposition to Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System, noting that there was damning evidence that university and medical institutions were guilty of financial infractions.