CIRDDOC Commends Improved Transparency Budgeting System in North-east

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Segun Awofadeji in Gombe

The Civil Resource Development and Documentation Centre (CIRDDOC), has commended the improved transparency in budgeting in the North-eastern states of the federation.

North-east Zonal Coordinator of CIRDDOC, Mrs. Dudu Mamman Manuga, made the commendation during the North-east states 2020 budget transparency survey that was organised with support from Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Responsible Citizenship and Human Development Initiative. It was held in Gombe yesterday.

Already, Yobe State has been rated as number one among other North East States budget transparency, according to a survey conducted by CIRDDOC and Manuga noted that although a number of states have functional website, some still do not have the requisite details of some aspect of budget online.

According to Manuga, “the issue of transparency has tremendously improved unlike when we started in 2015 because now every day has a website and they put up their documents on that website. Not, all the documents that we are looking for are there and when they are there (online) they are there in good time because there is a timeline.”

Although she bemoaned the failure of states to publish mid-year review, a six month report on the budget, she said auditor generals of all the states failed to engage the citizens of each of the states.

She said: “When citizens want to do something or intervene, unfortunately, not all are always online in good time. Some states don’t do citizens’ budget, where it is broken down using infographics, or the use of languages that citizens can understand. Some states don’t do this. Some states do not do call circular, they feel it is not important. The criteria for scoring this year (2020) hinged on public availability. It should be on the website.”

Manuga also decried the non-domestication of the Freedom of Information (FOI) act in the entire North-east states, adding also that states do not also have the mid-year review which is different from a report because a report is performance, which has what came in and out. However, a mid-year review is an assessment of how the budget performed looking at the past six months.”

The coordinator also warned against movement of funds from Ministries, Departments and Agencies that have been appropriated without recourse to the assembly.

She said: “Auditor generals are supposed to hold their public hearing at their own stage before they submit their report to the House of Assembly. I think it is only Yobe State that does that in the entire North East.

“We need the office of the Auditor-Generals to open up small and engage citizens. The public account committee does not hold public hearing on the auditors’ report. So we need the committee to open up and engage the citizens and when they have the report it should be put online for the purpose of the survey,” she said.

“If there is going to be any plus minus, they should go back to the House of Assembly, they are supposed to know and approve that the money can move from ministry A – B. May be there is a greater need like we had Covid-19 challenge last year. This is because it is an appropriation law, you don’t just play with the law without going to the lawmakers to give an approval. A lot of them claim to do it but we don’t see it online,” Manuga added.

Also speaking, Director Budget, Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning Yobe State, Zainab Saleh, said the survey gave researchers opportunity to know how citizens were carried along in budget process, adding that the network of civil society organisations operating in the state aided the performance.

On his part, CIRDDOC’s Bauchi State Researcher, Dr. Yusuf Abashi, noted that citizens input were not captured in 2020 budget formulation, noting that the state was low because a lot of things were not made open for the public.

“In the North-east we have a long way to go presently. Yes, there is a level of involvement but it is too insignificant the people are the most important contributors in the budget. Until the responsibility is implemented we will be far behind. Budget should be from the people upward and not from up to bottom,” he stated.