SERAP To Immediate Past Govs. Account for N40 trillion LGA funds in 7 days

by J.J Olawuyi

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has called on all 36 state governors and the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Mr. Nyesom Wike, to reveal the specifics of federal funds designated for local governments in their regions and the FCT, as well as the exact distribution of these funds since democracy was reinstated in 1999.

Additionally, the organization requested that they swiftly ask the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to examine the precise allocation and expenditure of federal funds for local governments in their states and the FCT since May 1999.

In a freedom of information (FOI) request dated January 27, 2024, signed by SERAP’s Deputy Director Kolawole Oluwadare, it was emphasized that Nigerians have the right to know the specifics of the allocation and expenditure of federal funds in their state and the FCT.

In December 2022, former president Muhammadu Buhari stated that corruption in the disbursement of federal funds to local governments is common, with only a portion of the allocated funds reaching the intended local government chairman.

Guided by Transparency and Accountability
SERAP stressed that states and the FCT should adhere to principles of transparency and accountability, and proactively disclose information regarding their actual allocation and spending of federal funds for local governments. The lack of clarity on the amounts actually distributed to local governments negatively affects citizens’ fundamental interests and public interest.

SERAP’s Seven-Day Ultimatum
SERAP’s FOI request includes a seven-day deadline for compliance, warning that legal actions will be considered if there is no response. Transparency in the allocation and expenditure of federal funds is essential to increase accountability, prevent corruption, and build trust in democratic institutions, and strengthen the rule of law. It is also vital for the public’s right to know and participate in government affairs, and to ensure that funds are not misappropriated but used for the benefit of residents in local government areas.

Concerns Over Mismanagement and Corruption
SERAP expressed grave concern that years of allegations of corruption and mismanagement of federal allocations have led to widespread poverty and underdevelopment, and hindered access to public goods and services. Ensuring transparency and accountability would improve Nigerians’ enjoyment of their right to natural wealth and resources. SERAP reminded of the legal responsibility to ensure full disbursement and transparency in the use of federal allocations for local governments.

Over N40 Trillion Allocated to Local Governments
SERAP reported that over N40 trillion in federal allocations for the 774 local governments and FCT has been collected. Despite significant disbursements, opacity persists in the actual allocation to local governments. States and the FCT have historically failed to disclose the portions disbursed by state governors.

SERAP emphasized former President Buhari’s allegations of routine misappropriation of funds by state governors and called for transparency and accountability mechanisms to prevent embezzlement of the trillions received. It also cited the Nigerian Constitution, which mandates a State Joint Local Government Account and the allocation of funds for the benefit of local government councils, and emphasizes the state’s responsibility to adhere to constitutional provisions. The public interest in accessing this information is paramount, and Nigerians have the right to unimpeded and undistorted information, based on the principle of maximum disclosure.

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