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Akwa Ibom wins CIRDDOC 2020 best budget transparency award

Akwa Ibom wins CIRDDOC 2020 best budget transparency award
The allegation of marginalisation against Governor Udom Emmanuel by the Oro Think Tank is unfair and has no basis in objectivity, the Akwa Ibom State branch of the Civil Liberties Organisation, CLO, has declared.

In a move that gives credence and endorsement of the commitment of the Udom Emmanuel led administration in ensuring openness, transparency and accountability in budgeting and governance, the Akwa Ibom State Government has been ranked one of the best performing states in the 2020 sub-National Budget Transparency Survey.

The survey which was conducted by the Civil Resource Development and Documentation Centre (CIRDDOC) to ascertain the level of budget performance by states of the federation revealed that Akwa Ibom and four other states topped the budget performance index for the year, 2020.

The Nigerian States Budget Transparency Survey Report also revealed that Akwa Ibom and some other Nigerian States have significantly improved budget transparency and participation, and has improved the robustness of the procurement process, a confirmation of the resolve of Governor Udom Emmanuel at ensuring that the budget is structured in a way that guarantees people Centered participation and buy-in for effective monitoring, tracking, assessment and evaluation of its implementation.

The survey report which was made available to the public by the Executive Director, CIRDDOC Nigeria, Ral Nwankwao-Obioha, indicates that “Akwa Ibom, Ekiti, Kaduna, and Ondo states each scored above 60 per cent, meaning they provided significant budget information, spaces for public participation throughout the budget process, and information on procurement”.

“Only Oyo and Zamfara states provided almost no budget information, had non-existent spaces for public consultation, and opaque procurement processes”.

In her address, the Executive Director of CIRDDOC Nigeria, Ral Nwankwo-Obioha (Mrs.) said the objective of the report is to compare the degree of budget transparency across states, promote international best practices with regards to budgeting and budget process in the States and inspire and encourage the spirit of competitiveness’ amid states towards promoting budget transparency and government accountability.

Hear hear, “The support and promotion of accountable government is the responsibility of all. While the state governments are saddled with the responsibility of budget development, the citizens, Legislators, Auditor-Generals, Accountant Generals, Civil Society Organisations and the media have significant roles to play in ensuring that the must-haves are included in the budget as well as determine budget execution”

She reiterated that playing a major role in the accountability ecosystem means that all and sundry have access to the budget information. She also said that all citizens should have access to information on how state governments plan revenue, incur debt and spend public resources essential in the financial programmes of the state.

Also speaking, the Chairman of the occasion, Dr Otive Igbuzor, in his opening remarks said that the budget is perhaps the most important instrument for the development of any modern state apart from the constitution.

According to Dr Igbuzor, “The focus on a budget has assumed greater prominence in recent years with increasing democratization civil society participation and the desire to respond to the development challenges of poverty and inequality. It is the most powerful way that a government can meet the needs and priorities of the citizens. The budget process is crucial to good development outcomes.

Continuing, he said, “Corruption in any country starts from the budgetary process. In very corrupt countries, the budget is done in secret. Releases are done without the knowledge of citizens and procurement Information is not made available to citizens and corruption is guarded and protected. This is why civil society organisations are advocating for an open budget system”.

He reiterated that budget has been described as the most important document for the development of any country, emphasizing that the budget is regarded as open if citizens have access to the key budget documents; have a high level of involvement in the budgetary process and have access to procurement information Democracy will be meaningless if the citizens do not participate in how government raise and spend money.

“This is why the tool (Open Budget Survey Tracker) developed by the International Budget Partnership (IBP) is a very useful instrument. It surveys the availability of eight key budget documents to members of the public pre-budget statement, executive budget proposal, enacted budget, citizens’ budget, in-year report, mid-year review year-end report and audit report”.

“The Pre-budget statement is meant to disclose the parameters of the budget proposal including macro-economic assumptions. The enacted budget is the budget that has been passed into law by the legislature. The Citizens’ budget is a simplified version of the budget proposal that the average citizen can understand and relate with the in-year report is a monthly or quarterly report of budget implementation”.

He reiterated that the efficacy of the budget determines the success of governments in meeting societal needs.

In his words, “There is a process of making a budget which should be open transparent and participatory in order to bring about development. Unfortunately, despite the enormous resources in Nigeria, the country and its people are poor partly because of corruption, secrecy in the budget process and poor public finance management. This is why the open budget is a necessity for development in Nigeria”.

“Anyone interested in the development of Nigeria must join the movement for Open Budget in Nigeria”, he concluded.

With an average score of 42 out of 100, Nigerian states provided some information on the budget and procurement processes with limited spaces for public participation. Twelve states significantly increased their scores by 20 points or higher while 18 states have improved their scores by at least one point.

These improvements were mainly due to the timely online publication of budget documents and the enactment of procurement laws meant to better guide the procurement process.

Only a few states regressed since 2018, with Delta and Lagos state scores decreasing by 21 and 22 points, respectively. These states did not publish budget documents online and closed spaces for public participation.

With a score of 90, Jigawa performed best on the Index, as they did in 2018.

The majority of states scored between 20 and 60, meaning they provided minimal to some information on the budget, few spaces for public participation, and limited information on the procurement process.

Only Oyo and Zamfara states provided almost no budget information, had non-existent spaces for public consultation, and opaque procurement processes.

CIRDDOC developed the Nigerian States Budget Transparency Survey (SNBTS) to analyze how transparent, open, and participatory budget and procurement processes are in Nigerian states and all 36 states are evaluated to see how much budget information is provided, spaces and mechanisms for public participation throughout the budget process, and how robust and transparent the procurement process is in the states.

Remarks were made by the representative of FCDO Nigeria, Sam Waldock, Head of the Governance Team; Worldbank, Nigeria Governors’ Forum among others.

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