Written by Austine ELEMUE

Area councils get N114.3bn in 2018 Residents demand projects’ audit

Investigation has revealed that the Federal Capital Territory Administration, FCTA, disbursed One Hundred and Fourteen Billion, Three Hundred and Ninety Five Million, Nine Hundred and Fifty Two Thousand, Six Hundred and Seventy Seven Naira, Four Kobo (N114, 395, 952, 677.04) to the six area councils of the territory in 2018. 

Out of this amount, primary school teacher's salaries in the six area councils gulped N12, 176, 399, 870.14, representing 10.6 percent of the total allocation to the councils. 

Other areas include 15 percent pension fund, 1 percent training fund, 10 percent employment fund and other statutory deductions in the area of primary healthcare services. 

The breakdown of monthly allocations to the area councils as from January to December 2018 is listed below: January allocation to area councils N1,029,010,447.71, February allocation to area council N995,455,610.22, March allocation to area council N885,934,977.27, April allocation to area council N965,301,752.92, May allocation to area council N1,162,779,257.81 and  June allocation to area council N1,029,010,447.71. 

Other months include July allocation to area council N931,929,061.48, August allocation to area council N1,503,421,993.60, September allocation to area council N786,438,781.82, October allocation to area council N1,114,211,705.42, November allocation to area council N831,777,153.03 and  December allocation to area council N1,288,647,164.76 totaling N114, 395, 952, 677.04) to the six area councils. 

However, residents of the territory are demanding accountability of the funds allocated to the councils, as some are of the view that funds are not judiciously spent by heads of the councils, while others are calling for biometric capturing of staff of the various councils in the territory. 

They also expressed concern that some of the area councils are more interested in recurrent expenditure rather that capital expenditures that will bring physical development to the rural people. 

Though, residents commended the FCT Administration in the transparent manner in which funds were disbursed to the area councils, but called on the administration to monitor how area councils’ funds are expended. 

Mr. Magnus Okwe, a resident of Nyanya expressed shock that such huge amount of resources was allocated to the area councils in 2018, despite the economic downturn. 

According to him, "it is unbelievable that such huge amount of money was released to the six area councils considering the infrastructural decay we see in various councils of the FCT. It is very clear that all the resources allocated to the councils are channeled to recurrent expenditure because we are not seeing the physical impact in the territory. 

"To me, they should embark on biometric capturing of area council's staff. If you look at the huge resources expended on salaries, you will agree with me that there are a lot of ghost workers in various councils of the FCT". 

Another resident, Malam Abubakar Shehu, called for a close supervision of area council's funds, just as he noted that the relevant mandate secretariat and agencies are not doing enough to hold the councils accountable. 

"It is high time we demand accountability from those managing our collective resources at the grassroots level. It is glaring that no department or agency of FCT Administration monitors the activities of the councils in terms of funds disbursed to them. Unfortunately, non-governmental organisations and civil society groups are beaming their searchlight on federal and state government, while the main corruption is at the local level," Shehu stated.

Attempts to get the officials of the area councils to speak on the huge revenue allocation was met with silence.

However, an official of one of the councils, who asked not to be named because he is not the spokesperson, said a lot was going on in far flung communities, stressing that area councils ought to earn more than there were presently getting.



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