By Rose Onda
The Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Clem Ikanade Agba, says to reduce the over 2.5 million acutely malnourished and stunted children, the Federal Government is implementing innovative policies and strategies that are appropriately funded, data-driven and sustainable.
The Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, Clem Agba, has revealed plans by the federal government to launch a web application to be christened ‘Eye-Mark’, aimed at empowering Nigerians to report any poorly executed government projects to the government.
He also disagreed with reports that the health and educational sectors of the economy were underfunded.
The minister made this known recently, while speaking with newsmen at a two-day National Assembly/Budget Office of the Federation of Nigeria (BOF) retreat holding in Lagos.
According to him, the federal government was planning on using technology, “so that we get Nigerians to be the one to monitor and evaluate projects for us.”
He explained: “So, we are developing a web-app, which we have named the ‘Eye-Mark’, because we want Nigerians to eye mark the projects for us, while the government ear-marks.
“And it’s going to use geospatial technology. So an ordinary Nigerian that sees a road being constructed, but the quality is not good, will take a picture of it, and send it to us, so we know exactly where it is.
“Haven received this, we will go to the responsible Ministry or Agency and take it up with them. With this, we are no longer relying on just the Monitoring and Evaluation team from the MDA’s, because when you are monitoring yourself, of course you will say you are doing well.
“So, we want Nigerians to be the ones really doing those monitoring. This isn’t a takeaway from the monitoring and evaluation team, but to ensure checks and balances and carry Nigerians along.”
Speaking further, he said he does not agree that the health and educational sectors are not been properly funded, saying “what happens is that, most people who are analysing just take a look at what had been given under the ministry of health, or the ministry of education.”
He added: “But when talking about the sector, there are fundings that are meant for those sectors that aren’t domicile in those ministries.”
He argued that the Universal Basic Education (UBEC) fund, for instance, is not domiciled with Ministry of education, adding that the TET-Fund is also not domiciled with the Ministry of Education.
“So if you want to talk about the education sector you have to talk about what has been given to the ministry, TET-Fund, UBEC, and it doesn’t even stops there.
“Ministry of Works is doing a lot of intervention in federal universities, doing roads and all, which is educational sector. Ministry of Finance, Budget and Planning has got schools where statisticians are trained, but the funding for that does not show in Ministry of Education. Agric has got schools too.
“So if you want to look at the sector, you put all of it together and you find that they are well funded.”
Also speaking with newsmen, the Director General, Budget Office of the Federation, Ben Akabueze, expressed optimism that there would be an improvement in oil revenue, to further help funding of the budget.
“We expect to build on some performance of 2020 which was a very difficult year. Notwithstanding, on the winning side, we were able to achieve up to 73 per cent of our revenue projections, and on the expenditure side, we achieved 100 per cent funding of it.
“We expect to sustain that performance for the second year running, we are going to pass the budget so that implementation will commence January. That itself is a contributory factor towards better overall performance of the budget,” he added.
“By the time we take stocks of first quarter performance, we will have a better view of how things are going,” he noted.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriation, Senator Jibrin Barau, expressed confidence in the 2021 budget performance.
On the other hand, the Chairman House Committee on Appropriation, Hon. Muktar Betara, advised the government to channel expected surplus oil-revenue towards debt repayments and budget funding instead of creating a supplementary budget.