The evil of corruption and its corrosive effects to the development and wellbeing of Nigerians was ones again highlighted in two town hall meetings organised by Social Action in Port Harcourt, Uyo and Yenagoa on the 5th, 12th and 24th of October 2018 respectively. Participants drawn from different civil society and community-based groups agreed that the problem faced by the peoples of the Niger Delta is not that of lack of resources but of the mismanagement of the wealth that has accrued to the region over the years.
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 2018, Social Action, working with other citizens groups and development partners through the Open Budget Cluster in the Niger Delta has achieved significant improvements in open budgets at the sub-national levels of government. Between April and September 2018, significant events included the Niger Delta Open Budget Co-Learning Summit in Asaba, direct engagement of budgeting and planning officials of states, and processes to enhance participation of community groups were part of a conscious effort to institutionalize an open budget system in the states and local government areas in the Niger Delta.
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.
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”.
As part of ongoing anti-corruption work at the sub-national levels of government, Social Action organised State Level Sensitization Workshops in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria during the first quarter of 2018. The workshops aimed to enhance the capacity of CSOs to understand the budget and to use it as a tool to engage the government on accountability and good governance. Representatives of citizens groups participated in the workshops in Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo, Ondo and Rivers States. Over thirty participants in each of the States received training on budget processes and participation, and strategies for achieving budget democracy and accountability.
In 2017, Social Action carried out analyses and monitoring of the budgets of the states of the Niger Delta, as part of the process of monitoring development goals and tracking corrupt practices at the subnational level.
A detailed report will be published early in 2018.
Social Action’s budget advocacy activities are aimed at calling attention to the need for citizens to get actively involved in the processes of fiscal governance and engaging the government on incipiencies observed in the budget and the actual performance. Evidence indicates that where this is the case, the performance of governments have significantly improved, thereby enhancing accountability and transparency and reducing corruption.
The Open Budget Week 2017 of Social Action included activities aimed at educating the citizens on the need to support the call on the state governments in the Niger Delta to ingrain an open budget culture and enshrine the practice of citizens participation in all the phases of the budget cycle. The week-long budget advocacy campaign was targeted on the one hand at ensuring that citizens become interested in fiscal issues while pressuring subnational governments to become more engaging, transparent and accountable in the management of public resources.
This report contains the evaluation and monitoring of the 2016 annual budget allocations and project execution in six states of Nigeria: Abia, Akwa Ibom, Delta, Bayelsa, Nasarawa and Kano.
By Isaac Botti, Programme Officer, Social Action, Abuja.
The Nigerian federal government on Tuesday, November 7, 2017, presented its 2018 Appropriation Bill to the National Assembly for consideration and approval. The 2018 federal budget is tagged “Budget of Consolidation”, developed to consolidate on the achievements of the 2017 “Budget of Recovery and Growth”. Taken together, the impression is that the government crafted the earlier budget to revamp and stabilise the economy, while the current proposal is to solidify those gains.