By Oluchi Chibuzor
BudgIT, a technology-driven civic organisation has revealed that about 33 states in Nigeria lack portals that enable members of the public to monitor and scrutinise their annual budget performance.
This was revealed during a virtual workshop on Advocacy and Budget and Project Monitoring organised by the organisation.
In his paper presentation, Mr. Tolulope Agunloye, of BudgIT on ‘Advocacy for Fund Disbursement and Improved Service Delivery,’ said only Kaduna and Edo states had portals where their budget performance could be monitored by members of the public, while Lagos operates partial opening of its budget to the public.
Agunloye, who explained that accessibility to such fiscal documents would promote transparency in governance, noted that before an organisation or an individual could advocate transparency in budgets, there must be objectives, which include planning and clear specific that must be achievable.
He said: “For budgets to work, we need revenues. Without revenues, implementation of budgets will be very low. Most of the states in Nigeria except Kaduna, Edo and Lagos have portals for citizens to assess their budgets. In fact, Lagos has partial openings.
“If you want the 36 states in Nigeria to open their budgets, you have to have realistic objectives and they will key into it gradually. With this, we will have governance at all levels.
“However, the current leaderships in the National Assembly have refused to open their budgets to the public, while the eighth assembly led by Saraki did partial opening for us.”
On his own part, the Programme Officer, BudgIT Foundation, Mr. Henry Omokhaye, in his paper titled, ‘Budget Monitoring/Tracking for Improved Service Delivery,’ was of the opinion that budget implementation start from electioneering campaign process, emphasizing that the quality of a leader determined the direction of budget performance.
The group revealed that it was tracking budget implementation in 32 states of the federation, except in Jigawa, Zamfara, Yobe and Bornu states as 16,000 projects had been tracked by the group in the last few years, while it had held 9,000 town hall meetings.
Omokhaye , noted that in a process of tracking projects implementation and costing, they discovered that in 2017, a borehole on an existing well was allegedly constructed at N20 million as a constituency project in one of the states in the country by a national assembly member.
Furthermore, he revealed that another constituency project of three classroom blocks without furniture was purportedly executed at N20 million, while a contractor in Edo State used hollow blocks for construction of a drainage.
He said: “Budget is not an abstract item. It is a statement of a projection that defines the public sector’s investment in the people as well as their communities, but most times, the community people are not aware of a particular project taken to their communities.
“In 2017 for instance, a borehole was constructed for N20 million on an existing well in a state in Nigeria. The same year, a three blocks of classroom was constructed at over 20 million without furniture.”