Sunday, April 2, 2023

BudgIT decries lack of transparency in states’ budgets

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Jaafar Jaafar
Jaafar Jaafar
Jaafar Jaafar is a graduate of Mass Communication from Bayero University, Kano. He was a reporter at Daily Trust, an assistant editor at Premium Times and now the editor-in-chief of Daily Nigerian.
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BudgIT, a civic organisation has urged Nigerians to demand their states’ budgets collectively.

Abiola Afolabi, the organisation’s Communications Lead said this on Tuesday in Lagos.

According to Mr Afolabi, only 15 states in the country have published their budget documents online.

He said officials of the organisation observed this while conducting online assessment on the availability of public finance documents in state government domains.

“Following this call, we were able to obtain 15 state budget documents for 2018.

“The states are: Borno, Delta, Edo, Ekiti, Gombe, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kogi, Kwara, Lagos, Nasarawa, Ondo, Plateau and Yobe.

“It is instructive to note that only 13 states (Borno, Delta Edo, Ekiti, Gombe, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kogi, Nasarawa, Ondo, Plateau and Yobe) of the 15 states are sufficiently detailed.

The organisation said while Lagos and Kwara States provided a summary of their budgets on the government websites, the document provided lacked actionable details with which citizens could hold their elected officials accountable.

It also added, “Our organisation would like to state explicitly that Lagos and Kwara States have a history of capacity over the years and are notorious for resisting attempts by citizens to pry into the affairs of the state.

“Shrouding public finance information in secrecy thereby encourages corruption and mediocre performance in the states.

“The #StateofStates advocacy continues to critically look at the proactiveness in the disclosure of information in the Nigerian states and their compliance with the Freedom of Information law where applied,” said Mr Afolabi.

He said transparency in the states continued the downward swing as governments persist in denying citizens the access to relevant information.

“It is commendable that the states released full budget documents to the public, but it must be published within a reasonable timeframe,” Mr Afolabi added.

He further said the proposed budget details presented to the State House of Assembly should be made available to the public to enable people engage their legislators during the budget debate.

Mr Afolabi explained that any state keen on the participation of citizens in governance should publish full details of the proposal within 48 hours of submission to the legislature.

He also called on Nigerians to keep an eye on the funds and follow the money.

“Across the world, transparency has been noted to foster citizens’ trust in government and increasing investor confidence.

“States with partially detailed budgets documents in public domains must provide details of capital projects being executed for the fiscal year,” Mr Afolabi said in a statement.


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