SERAP tells 36 governors, Wike to account for N40 trillion LGA allocations

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*Wants ICPC, EFCC invited to investigate disbursement, spending of allocations

*The call came via the Freedom of Information request dated January 27, 2024

*Says opacity in amounts of allocations disbursed have negative impacts on interests of citizens

By Agency Report

Governors of the 36 states in the country, as well as the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nyesom Wike have been asked to disclose details of federal allocations meant for local governments in their states and the FCT.

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) which made the call also urged the governors and the FCT Minister to promptly invite the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to investigate the actual disbursement and spending of federal allocations meant for local governments in your state and the FCT since May 1999.

In the freedom of information requests dated 27 January 2024 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation stated that Nigerians have the right to know the details of actual disbursement and spending of federal allocations in your state and the FCT.

Recall that former President Muhammadu Buhari had in December 2022 stated that, “If the money from the Federation Account to the State is about N100m, N50m will be sent to the chairman but he will sign that he received N100 million. The chairman will pocket the balance and share it with whoever he wants to share it with.’”

The organisation said information at its disposal shows that the 36 states in Nigeria and the federal capital territory, Abuja, have collected over N40 trillion federal allocations meant for the 774 local governments areas in the country and FCT.

SERAP said states and the FCT should be guided by transparency and accountability principles and proactively publish information pertaining to their actual disbursement and spending of federal allocations meant for local governments.

According to SERAP, opacity in the amounts of federal allocations actually disbursed to local governments in the states have continued to have negative impacts on the fundamental interests of the citizens and the public interest.

The FoI requests, read, in part: “We would be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within 7 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP shall consider appropriate legal actions to compel you and your state and the FCT to comply with our requests in the public interest.

“Transparency in the actual disbursement and spending of federal allocations meant for local governments is fundamental to increase accountability, prevent corruption, and build trust in democratic institutions, and strengthen the rule of law.

“Implicit in the freedom of expression is the public’s right to know what governments are doing on their behalf, without which truth would languish and people’s participation in government would remain fragmented.

“Transparency would ensure that the allocations are not diverted into private pockets, and increase public trust that the money would be used to benefit Nigerians resident in these local government areas.

“SERAP is seriously concerned that years of allegations of corruption and mismanagement of federal allocations meant for local governments have contributed to widespread poverty, underdevelopment and lack of access to public goods and services in several states.

“Ensuring transparency and accountability in the actual disbursement and spending of federal allocations in your state would also improve the enjoyment by Nigerians of their right to natural wealth and resources.

“You have a legal responsibility to promote transparency and accountability in the actual disbursement and spending of federal allocations meant for local government areas in your state, and to ensure that the allocations are dully and fully disbursed to the local governments.

“SERAP is concerned that despite the country’s enormous oil wealth, ordinary Nigerians have derived very little benefit from oil money primarily because of widespread grand corruption, and the culture of impunity of perpetrators.

“Combating the corruption epidemic in the spending of federal allocations meant for local government areas in your state would alleviate poverty, improve access of Nigerians to basic public goods, and enhance the ability of the local governments to effectively and efficiently discharge their constitutional and statutory responsibilities.

“According to our information, the 36 states in Nigeria and the federal capital territory, Abuja, have collected over N40 trillion federal allocations meant for the 774 local governments areas in the country and FCT.

“The Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) disbursed to states N225.21 billion federal allocations meant for local governments in November 2023 alone. States also collected N258,810,449,711.47 federal allocations meant for local government areas in December 2023.