The recent statement made the Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Babatunde Fashola that “those who complain we [Federal Government] borrow too much should tell us where else to find funds” is not only unfortunate but alsoa glaring admission of cluelessness.
Social Development Integrated Centre (Social Action) has been leading advocacy, amongst other thematic areas, on open and inclusive governance with a vision to entrench a regime of transparent and accountable governance and a citizen-centred public budgeting system. For about a decade now Social Action has been working with like-minded partner organisations in the Niger Delta to bring this vision to reality.
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).
Recently, the Kogi state government made a public admission and disclosure that it has defaulted in paying its workers’ salaries due to huge loan servicing by the State. The State’s Director-General, Media and publicity stated in the report that “. . .the loans were taken by the two previous administrations for projects that did not add value to the state. Sometimes, we repay between N400m and N500m monthly as loans that add no value to the state. These loans were taken by the last two administrations and some of them were invested on projects that were never completed”.
Organized by Social Development Integrated Centre (Social Action) in collaboration with Kabetkache Women Development and Resource Centre and Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) on Thursday, February 22, 2018, at Aldgate Hotel, Abacha Road, Port Harcourt, communities and civil society organizations across Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo and Rivers states, (during the Town Hall meeting) examined issues of notable concern over communities and environmental matters as related to the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill.
The European Union has been showing strong interest in the state of the north-east Nigeria and has overtime actively canvassed for and indeed supported the rehabilitation of the crisis-torn region. With the recent grant of 143 million Euros (N60.1 billion) for the rehabilitation of communities across Borno state, the body has once again demonstrated significant concern the development of the region. This support which it says will be implemented by a consortium of four bodies and entities, is targeted at providing critical services that includes healthcare, water and sanitation, sustainable energy, employment opportunities and general improvement of the livelihood of the people. Timely as this step is, strong efforts and effective mechanisms however need be put in place to avoid resources not impacting on the people.
From right to left: Doifie Buokoribo (Board member), Isaac ‘Asume’ Osuoka (Executive Director), Vivian Bellonwu-Okafor (Head of Advocacy) addressing the media at Social Action’s National Advocacy Centre, Abuja
Based on the text of the Press Conference by the Social Development Integrated Centre (Social Action), June 21, 2017, Abuja
The Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) was passed by the Senate in May 2017 (the Federal House of Representatives is still working on the bill). Social Action has undertaken a thorough study of the PIGB. The result of our examination is contained in the briefing paper, “The Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB), 2017: Implications for the Environment and Local Communities”.
The Federal Government will spend N540bn more on debt servicing than it will spend on 10 key sectors of the economy, an analysis of the 2017 budget, which is about to be presented to Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, has shown.
The 2017 Appropriation Bill, which was passed into law by the National Assembly last week, provided N1.84tn for debt servicing and N1.3tn for 10 key sectors of the economy, including agriculture, power, works and housing, education, health, transport, mines and steel, defence, police, and trade and investment.
In March 2017, Social Action will join other organisations in two Break Free rallies in Port Harcourt and Bori, as part of the annual ‘global wave of people taking a stand against dirty energy’. In solidarity with Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), Environmental Rights Action (ERA), Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), Kebetkache, Ogoni Solidarity Forum, Egi Joint Action Congress (EJAC) and other organisations, we will be “joining forces to protect communities in vulnerable situations from extreme weather, and from fossil corporations that have polluted our air, grabbed our land, and captured our governments.”
Following a one-day roundtable conference on the above topic, participant cutting across various civil society organisations in Nigeria have come up with the following resolution: –
• That the humanitarian crisis in the Sahel region of Nigeria should not be seen purely as a religious or ethnic problem; rather, the crises in the Sahel, including the Lake Chad Basin are manifestations of serious ecological challenges that should be addressed as a matter of urgent national importance.
• That the core ecological and attendant social challenges confronting farmers and pastoralists in the Sahel region manifests as desertification; water shortage and drought; the issue of livelihood; climate change; migration; maladaptation (inappropriate government response to adaptation); good governance deficits at the federal, state and local government levels, etc.