The year 2015 witnessed unprecedented economic downturn in Nigeria. With the price of crude oil in the international market dropping steeply, the Nigerian economy shrank and the government considered activating austerity measures.
On the 31st of August 2016, Social Action’s Open Budget Cluster carried out a Citizens’ –Government Roundtable meeting on Open Budgets. The event aimed at ensuring that state annual budgets are open and available to citizens. This accessibility of state budgets will kick-start other forms of citizens’ engagement which will lead to more participatory and prudent fiscal practices.
It is worrying that at the sixth month of the fiscal year, Rivers state, Akwa Ibom state, Bayelsa state and Delta state have not deemed it appropriate to make copies of their annual budgets available on the state official websites or otherwise for public access. This is the high point of a tradition of executive and legislative secrecy which has become common practice in the aforementioned states.
Following the completion of its monitoring of the implementation of the 2015 budget of five Niger Delta states, Social Action’s budget advocacy coalition, the Niger Delta Citizens and Budget Platform has presented reports containing its findings to the key government officials in Akwa Ibom and Delta state.
According to Coordinator of the budget advocacy coalition Ken Henshaw, ‘it is important the governments get copies of this reports and use it as a guide to take action in future to make sure that budgets impact more on the people than it currently is.’
In Akwa Ibom state, the presentation was made by Executive Director of coalition partner Policy Alert, Mr Tijah Bolton, while in Delta state it was delivered by the Mrs. Bridget of the Int’l Centre for Women Empowerment & Child Dev. (ICWECD) based in the state capital Asaba.
The report contains findings by teams of budget monitors comprising of transparency and accountability activists, the media and community volunteers who were on the field for two weeks in early 2016, visiting sites of projects mentioned and allocated funds in the 2015 budgets of the various state.
Reports of health, education and food sufficiency project sites indicate that up to 80% of projects allocated funds were never executed in the states. ‘The difference between allocation and implementation is just too high. It is either the budget was too unrealistically made with impossible revenue expectations, or something else we don’t understand is going on,’ says Sebastian Kpalap, Executive Director of Citizens’ Voice Initiative and coalition member.
In the coming week, budget monitoring reports will be presented to other state governments in the Niger Delta.
As Nigeria begins to come to terms with the perilous state of the economy with the drop in oil prices, a warning has gone to the country to be wary of the dangers inherent in borrowing.
Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee of the House of Representatives, Honourable Kingsley O. Chinda gave this warning at a conference on “Promoting Accountability in the Management of Public Debt” Organized by Social Action in November 2015, in Abuja.
A new report by Social Action has revealed that Nigeria was fast re-entering the debt trap few years after it controversially exited the Paris and London Clubs debt overhang with payments amounting to over $14 billion in 2005.
The report “WHOSE BURDEN? EXAMINING THE GROWING PUBLIC DEBT CRISIS IN NIGERIA” launched in November 2015 in Abuja, shows a rapid rise in the country’s debt profile between 2006 and 2015. It revealed that government at both the federal and state levels have within this period acquired several loans to purportedly fund both capital and recurrent expenditure items. The report disclosed that the loans were effectively compromising the development of the country with a large percentage of the country’s budget and resources dedicated to debt servicing.
The report which revealed massive gap between loans acquired and actual projects executed identified fiscal excesses by public officials, poor planning and management, over-reliance on statutory allocation amongst others as some of the reasons for the dire financial situation of both the federal and sub-regional governments in the country.
It urged the National Assembly to immediately place a moratorium on all external borrowings while it conducts a full audit of the previous loans acquired to establish their usage as well as take other measures it recommended to shield Nigeria from the debt trap
BANISHED FOR OIL: The Untold Stories of Environmental Exiles of Ogoniland exposes ongoing displacement and forced migration resulting from oil pollution in Ogoniland. The report presents the untold stories of the members of Bue-Leh and Busuu communities in Khana Local Government Area of Rivers State, Niger Delta region of Nigeria who have all deserted their homes for almost a decade following oil spills, explosions and fires from installations of the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) and Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC).
With the clean-up of Ogoniland as recommended by the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) yet to commence, Social Action is publishing this story to raise awareness about the worsening state of Ogoni environment and the need for immediate actions from the government and all responsible parties to address the clean-up of the environment and the resettlement and compensation of displaced community members. Read Full Report
Written by Lillian Akhigbe, Communications Officer, Social Action
In view of the decision made by the Nigerian House of Representatives to commence consideration of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) next week, the Social Development Integrated Centre, also known as Social Action, has deemed it necessary to raise public awareness and bring to the attention of the lawmakers, some salient issues arising from key provisions contained in the PIB.
NDCBP Releases Citizens’ Report on State and Local Government Budgets in the Niger Delta
The Niger Delta Citizens and Budget Platform (NDCBP) is a coalition of civil society organizations in the Niger Delta working to ensure transparency, accountability and citizens’ participation in State and Local Government budget processes. In the last six years, NDCBP has worked with other civil society organizations, the media and communities in conducting budget monitoring, budget analyses and budget advocacy with primary emphasis on the Niger Delta states of Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo and Rivers states. The Platform’s findings have been widely published in the previous annual reports ‘Carry Go’, ‘Beyond Amnesty’, ‘Spend and Borrow’ and ‘Counting the Votes’ and ‘Wasted Billions’. We are pleased to share with you the latest in that series, ‘Pardoning Impunity: Citizens Report on State and Local Government Budget in the Niger Delta’.
Pardoning Impunity begins with an interesting discussion on the challenges facing Nigeria and especially the Niger Delta in the past year. Topical issues such as the Petroleum Industry Bill, the state of federal institutions like the Niger Delta Development Commission and the Ministry of the Niger Delta; and corruption in the oil and gas industry, are elaborately examined. The report also presents analyses of the budgets of the focal states, examining how the governments’ income and expenditure have kept trend with the avowed policy directions of the states. Particularly, the interest has been on how much emphasis the governments place on the education, health and food sufficiency sectors in relation to what is required to meet the challenges of those sectors.
The report gives an assessment of the economic downturns witnessed in Nigeria in 2013 following the passage of the Appropriation of that year, with a major focus on an in-depth analysis of the 2013 budgets implemented in five states of the Niger Delta region, namely: Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Bayelsa, Delta and Edo. The states were selected based on the criteria of being oil-producing States and the biggest receivers of the 13 percent derivation fund allocated to oil-bearing states in Nigeria.
The report also presents in factual and pictorial details, findings of NDCBP field monitors who in December 2013, visited project sites in the five focal states to carry out firsthand assessment of randomly selected capital projects in the areas of education, health and food sufficiency allocated funds in the 2013 budgets of the states.
Pardoning Impunity is aimed at revealing some crucial reasons why development still eludes the Niger Delta states, while highlighting the harsh reality of the region when juxtaposed with the huge revenue allocations disbursed to it. Widespread poverty, restiveness and an acute dearth of infrastructure, remain the order of the day, in spite of the monthly accruals.
The overall aim of the report is to emphasize the need for state policies and revenues to significantly influence the attainment of sustainable development and all-round wealth creation in the region.
An electronic version of ‘Pardoning Impunity: Citizens Report on State and Local Government Budget in the Niger Delta’. is available here
‘Counting the Votes: Citizens Report on State and Local Government Budgets in the Niger Delta, 2011’ is the fourth in a series of budget advocacy reports by the Niger Delta Citizens and Budget Platform (NDCBP). The volume presents an analysis of the 2011 budgets of the governments of Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo and Rivers States, as well as an independent assessment of budget implementation during the year. In the analyses, the income and expenditure preferences of these state governments were examined against their income generation, policy priorities, compliance with fiscal discipline and transparency mechanisms as well as their overall responses to development challenges. In both the budget analysis and monitoring processes, special emphasis was placed on the education and health sectors. The level of transparency in the budget process, which could be assessed in part by the level of access which citizens have with respect to budget documents, and the opportunities for public participation in the budget making and implementation processes, also informs the conclusions herein presented. Read full report