Nigeria Wasted over N60tn Budget Since 1999, Says MacArthur Foundation

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Udora Orizu in Abuja

Country Director, the John D and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Kole Shettima, has alleged that from 1999 till 2018, Nigerian politicians wasted over N60 trillion budgeted for the country’s development which made corruption to remain the single biggest deficit in the country.

Shettima made this claim yesterday in Abuja while delivering his goodwill message at the public presentation of a book titled: “Nigeria, Corruption and Opacity in Governance” written by Jide Ojo.

Represented by Dr Olaide Oladayo, Shettima stated that Nigeria, since 1999, has consistently allocated resources which are enough to bring about some changes in the living conditions of people, but no concrete measurable improvements could be seen.

According to him, “Between 1999 and 2018, Nigeria has budgeted more than N60 trillion, the managers are politicians and not development partners. And we have asked what has happened to the N60 trillion budgeted for the Nigerian public and this is just at the federal level. It doesn’t really matter how much the country is allocating unless we are able to block those leakages, it becomes very difficult to translate those resources to concrete measurable improvement in the human development indexes.”

The country director also alleged that it’s risky fighting corruption in Nigeria, because those targeted would mobilise resources to obstruct it, adding that a lot of people allegedly found it difficult to condemn corrupt people or even support the fight against corruption.

“A significant percentage of Nigerians has shown interest in the fight against corruption. What that seems to suggest is that a lot of Nigerians when it’s their turn to benefit, they don’t talk. If a lot of Nigerians can find the muscle and the strength to be objective in their criticisms on corruption in the country, perhaps we might be able to bring about some changes in the fight against corruption. Nigeria will make some progress against corruption when we all can come together,” he said.

Corroborating Shettima’s statement, the author of the book and public affairs analyst said the rationale behind the country’s inability to match the rest of the world could be found in lack of accountability.

He noted that the panacea to the country’s underdevelopment could be found in its ability to tackle corruption challenge.

“No matter the blame game we embark on, it’s not going to solve the problem. Even if our budget increased by tenfold and we don’t solve the problem of corruption, it will be like pouring water in a basket. If we don’t fix the problem of corruption, it will be like mopping a leaking roof. The challenge is for all of us to find a very ingenious and creative way to solving this challenge,” Ojo said.

On his part, the Director General Technical Aid Corps, Pius Osunyikanmi, blamed the country’s corruption challenges on neo-colonialism.

He opined that corruption was imported and African continent made unsafe by kleptomaniac leaders who formed some relationships with the people of the west.

“Today, I’m not surprised that it is still that aspect of neo-colonialism that has funded this book. It is an attempt to paint us in a colour that we are not. If MacArthur is funding this book. We want to ask: to what end?

“President Muhammadu Buhari has taken corruption fight to a level where he’s trying to make it one of the economic policies to be able to recover as much as we could recover to emancipate the people,” he said.