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Lagos, Cross River… 24 other states refuse to make budget details public
In compliance with the Freedom of Information Act, 10 states have provided public access to their 2018 budget. But the rest 26 states have ignored call to make their budget public.
BudgIT, a civil organisation that focuses on budget transparency and accountability, has at several times called on governments to provide public access to budget document as required by FOI act, without success.
Though the 36 states of the federation already have signed 2018 budget into law, less than one third have published the budget on the government websites.
The complying states are: Delta, Edo, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kogi, Kwara, Ondo, Plateau and Yobe.
Those yet to publish are Abia, Adamawa, Akwa-Ibom, Anambra, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Benue, Borno, Cross River, Ebonyi, Ekiti, Enugu and Gombe.
Other are Imo, Jigawa, Kebbi, Lagos, Nasarawa, Niger, Ogun, Osun, Oyo, Rivers, Sokoto, Taraba and Zamfara.
Out of the 10 states that made their budgets accessible to the public, only four provided public access to comprehensive budget, the rest only a budget summary.
In its recent tweet, BudgIT has invited Nigerians to demand access to budget document.
“There are only 10 states with Public Budgets. Is your state among them? Can you call out your Governor to provide details of the budget to the public?,” the organisation tweeted.
BudgIT has at several times invoked Freedom of Information Act to compel Lagos State to show more fiscal accountability without success.
In a letter dated June 15, 2017, BudgIT and SERAP (Social Economic Rights Accountability Project) requested for a copy of Public Procurement Journals, which the state government refused to publish till date.
In July 2016, the Federal Ministry of Finance listed 22 conditions under the Fiscal Sustainability Plan (FSP) for states seeking a bailout to meet their financial obligations to workers and citizens.
Part of the conditions includes publishing audited financial statement within nine months after the financial year end, publishing budget performance report online regularly, passing a Fiscal Responsibility Law among others.
Majority of the states government observe these rules in breach without consequence.
Budget Transparency Index: What’s Nigeria’s position?
Little wonder, Nigeria slipped into 90th place behind Zimbabwe and Afghanistan in the global Open Budget index released in February, 2018.
Also Nigeria’s score on the open budget index dipped from 24 in 2015 to 17. In Africa, South Africa led on the index and was closely followed by Uganda, Senegal, Ghana, Namibia, Kenya, Morocco, and Egypt, in that order. Nigeria currently ranks 23 behind Rwanda, Zimbabwe and Liberia.
The Open Budget Index assesses the comprehensiveness and timeliness of budget information that governments make publicly available.