By Longtong Ibrahim
Kaduna (Nigeria) – The 2015 Nigerian States Budget Transparency Survey Index has revealed that only three states in Nigeria scored above 50 percent in providing opportunities for citizens’ involvement throughout budget process and making it available to the public, while 21 states score below 25 percent.
The top three states are Ekiti, Cross River, and Lagos while from the bottom is Oyo, Katsina and Kwara state.
In view of this, Budget Transparency Stakeholders present at the North-West Zonal Launch Of the 2015 Nigerian States Budget Transparency Survey Results advocated For ‘Citizens’ Budget’, a simplified form of budget, which will encourage general public participation in the budget process where it will be available and accessible.
The launch was organized by Civil Resource Development and Documentation Centre (CIRDDOC) in collaboration with the Department for International Development (DFID) and International Budget Partnership (IBP) in Kaduna on Thursday.
Speaking during the launch, Executive Director of CIRDDOC, Oby Nwankwo explained that budgets which are usually voluminous and highly technical when summarize into few pages as well as local languages, will help citizens understand and participate in its process – they are able to improve the decisions made about what to spend public money on and the quality of how the money is actually spent; as such it will help in fighting corruption by enhancing openness and transparency.
The Executive Director who was Represented by Ralph Ndigwe noted that, when the citizens are not knowledgeable, no matter the number of town hall or stakeholders meetings government holds, “it is completely irrelevant and unproductive”; adding that, it is productive only if the number of people attending the meetings understands and are able to make inputs as well as follow up when necessary.
“The essence of openness and transparency is that, it makes people in government accountable – citizens can make probes if any contract given is not executed; by that, lives are improved upon and it also helps government to govern better.
According to Ndigwe, the developed survey is the first independent assessment investigating transparency and public participation in the budgeting and procurement processes in Nigerian states; noting also that the report compares the performance in all the 36 states of the country where it identifies best practices and recommends how state budgeting and procurement systems can be open and participatory.
“The project is intended to contribute to enhancement of government accountability through transparency in budget planning and implementation. It entails collecting, collating and analyzing data, and scoring and ranking the performance of the 36 states.”
The North-west CIRDDOC Zonal Coordinator, Abel Adejor said in the North-west geopolitical zone, there is the non-production of the citizens’ budget and most of the states don’t make their budget available to the public. He gave the overall State Transparency Budget Index as; “Jigawa scores the highest with 54 percent, followed by Sokoto with 34 percent, Kebbi – 23 percent, Kano – 18 percent, Zamfara – 13 percent, Kaduna – 7 percent and Katsina state having the least with 6 percent.
The Kaduna State Minority whip cum Chairman, House Committee on Public Account, Samuel Tanko said with the new government, the state will top the 2016 index survey as the state will make judicious use of the state media to get grassroots participation so as to carry everyone along.
The launch has in attendance independent researcher and directors from all the north-west states, where the directors promised to take the necessary approach towards improving their state’s index.