Meet Patience, Chief Sunday and their community, forced to flee their homes in Nigeria, from Bue-Leh to Bori.
In a regional conference on Tracking Trends of Corruption through Abandoned Projects in the Niger Delta, which was organised by the Social Development Integrated Centre (Social Action) in Port Harcourt in August 2018, the menace of corruption in the region was recognized as pervasive and has compromised the ability of public officials and agencies to deliver development dividends for people in the states. The conference organiser, Social Action also unveiled its publication, Abandoned Projects: Citizens Report on Budgets of Selected States in Nigeria, 2017.
Abandoned Projects: Citizens’ Report on Budgets of Selected States in Nigeria, 2017 is the documentation of analyses and findings from the monitoring of the implementation of the 2017 annual budgets of six selected states of Nigeria, Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, Kano and Nasarawa.
The report shows a continuing pattern of underwhelming spending on the social sector in 2017, even as budgeting in the states remained poor. Projects executed in previous years continued to appear in budgets as new projects while several projects that gulped large budgetary funds over the years were either roundly abandoned or never got off the ground. Budget lines continued to be vague, ill-described or ambiguously defined in budget documents hindering accountability and good governance much to the detriment of the people whose lives the projects would have impacted positively.
As an output from Social Action’s anti-corruption efforts at the sub-national level of government in Nigeria during the year 2017, the findings of budget analyses and monitoring is a tool for further public advocacy by citizens and civil society organisations at the grassroots level.
In a feat that marks the triumph of the rights and will of citizens, Social Action Nigeria has obtained and published the budget of the Rivers State Government for the 2017 and 2018 fiscal years on its website.
This breakthrough is coming on the heels of years of secrecy following the emergence of the administration of Governor Ezenwo Nyesom Wike in 2015. Since then, the government in the state refused to make its annual budgets public but instead carried on with the business of governance with expenditure figures unknown to residents and taxpayers. To this end, participatory governance became relegated to irrelevance even as accountability and transparency suffered a similar fate. Budget secrecy in Rivers State was sustained even at a time governments at all levels across the country were embracing Open Government Partnership (OGP).