An accountability and transparency-focused civic organization, BudgIT, has disclosed that Lagos, Rivers and 18 other states have failed to make available details of their budgets to the public. The organization made this disclosure in a statement released on Wednesday, following the report of a research it conducted to ascertain the total number of state budget documents available online to citizens.
BudgIT said its research showed that only Bauchi, Gombe, Kaduna and Kogi states made the details of their proposed budgets available.
The research, the organization added, also showed that only 14 states have posted their detailed budgets online. These are Akwa Ibom, Edo, Ekiti, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kogi, Kwara, Nasarawa, Ondo, Abia, Plateau and Yobe.
Along with Lagos and Rivers, Osun, Oyo, Anambra, Benue, Borno, Cross River, Delta, Enugu, Imo, Kebbi, Niger, Ogun, Sokoto, Taraba, Zamfara and Adamawa states are yet to make their detailed approved budgets available online.
“States such as Lagos publish summaries online that provide no project details that citizens can effectively track. Contrary to the conditions tied to the N90 billion bailout fund provided by the Minister of Finance, none of the 36 states have made their budget implementation report available to the public,” the statement said.
BudgIT explained that making budget documents public, mostly online, is key to transparency and good governance. It added that it is important for the public to have a clear understanding of how state governments are deploying public funds.
The organization said its research equally revealed that most states require citizens to either pay for hard copies of the budgets or go through a protracted application process for what should be a public document and can be posted freely online.
It observed that while huge attention is focused on the Federal Government, there is a need for Nigerians to pay similar attention to transparency at the state level if the country hopes to curb corruption.
It noted that Nigerians pay little attention to state finances. Quoting figures from the Central Bank of Nigeria, BudgIT said of the N50 trillion spent between 2011 and 2015, 36 state governments and the Federal Capital Territory cumulatively spent over N18.89trillion, representing 38% of entire expenditure.
The organization said it will remain committed to advocacy to ensure that Nigerians have a greater understanding of how resources are deployed are the state level.
“We believe that a functional society is that which takes into highest regards citizen engagement and participation in all areas. Without budget information, it is near impossible to participate in government, thus defeating the concept and essence of democracy altogether. We implore the citizens to also continually demand accountability from those in charge of their funds and keep them on their toes to improve on the current governance structure,” BudgIT concluded.