A new report published on Tuesday have revealed that 28 of the 36 states in Nigeria ranked poorly in terms of transparency and accountability in budget and procurement process.
The report, titled “Nigerian States Budget Transparency Index 2022” was launched in Abuja by a non governmental organisation, Civil Resource Development and Documentation Centre (CIRDDOC) with support of UKAID, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).
A breakdown of the report reveals a decline in the average degree of public availability of budget documents in the 36 states of the federation- the average score fell from 49 percent in 2020 fell to 47 percent in 2022.
Basically, budget transparency entails all citizens accessing information on how much is allocated to different types of spending, what revenues are collected, and how international donor assistance and other public resources are used to hold government accountable, according to stakeholders.
A breakdown of state-by-state performance, shows that no state provided extensive budget information to the public to score 81-100 percent in 2022, representing a significant decline from the 2020 performance in which two states, Ondo and Jigawa scored 86 percent and 91 percent respectively.
The report shows that eight states, including Jigawa, Edo, Adamawa, Kano, Ondo, Akwa Ibom, Kogi and Yobe were significantly transparent and provide an adequate amount of budget information to the public, as they score more than 60%.
However, 16 states to include Ogun, Osun, Kaduna, Ekiti, Borno, Zamfara, Abia, Gombe, Katsina, Enugu, Bauchi, Cross River, Oyo, Kwara, Kebbi and Anambra are weakly transparent as they scored between 40 and 60 percent. The remainder: Plateau, Bayelsa, Imo, Lagos, Ebonyi, Nasarawa, Taraba, Sokoto, Delta, Benue, Rivers and Niger scored below 40.
Rivers, Niger, Benue, and Ondo states scored below 20 percent, which means they provided scant or no information.Overall, 14 states scored below the national average in 2022.
Further, the report reveals that
most states did not provide significant space for the public in the budget process as the average score on the public participation index for all states was 28.42 percent in 2022. Also, only 5 of the 36 states published a citizens’ budget that contained all the required information.
Amongst other findings, the survey reveals that little effort was made by the state Accountant Generals to involve the public in the audit phase of the budget process. Only in two states, Jigawa and Osun, did the AGs maintain formal mechanisms through which the public can participate in the audit process.
The survey brings to the fore issues of transparency, participation and accountability in the budget and procurement process at the sub-national level in Nigeria. The report focuses on five key indicators; public availability of budget information, public participation in the budget process, the strength of the oversight institutions, public availability of procurement information.
As in previous surveys, the 2022 survey, which is the fourth in the series, employed a questionnaire approach similar to the International Budget Partnership’s Open Budget Survey questionnaires. It is based on internationally agreed principles of good financial management of OECD, IMF, IBP.
The multiple-choice questionnaire was completed by CIRDDOC’s civil society partners with backgrounds in fiscal governance in all 36 Nigerian states.
The report therefore recommended that subnationals : Make access to information as a right with sanction for defaulters; have clearer Public Financial Management laws; increase investment of public resources to make budget documents available; capacity building among others.
Oby Nwankwo, Executive Director , CIRDDOC who was represented by Azuka Azinge, a board member, said the aim of the report is to instil transparency in budgeting and budget process across the 36 states of the federation
“Recognizing the relevance of sub-national transparency, unavailability of data on budget prudence, and knowing that the first step towards pursuing open and transparent governance is through investigation and advocacy, CIRDDOC engaged both international and local partners in this project”, she said.
Magdalene Lagu, representative of FCDO Nigeria, stressed that access to public information is key and the lack of it creates space for abuse of power. She noted that publishing the survey report is not enough, hence citizens engage and interrogate budget process for accountability and transparency.