Budget Fraud: Report Indicts State Governments  *Transparency 26% *Public Procurement 30%

Nigeria (Blank NEWS Online) – 
Most state governments in Nigeria run an opaque budget system opening rooms for deep seated corruption and non delivery of good governance , a report of several weeks of study has revealed.

The report by the Civil Resource Development and Documentation Centre (CIRDDOC) scored most state governments as low as 26 out of hundred on budget transparency while procurement information is around 30 over 100.

The report sheds new light on the question of value for money, the critical importance of state governments in the delivery of good governance and the excessive focus on the central government when issue of corruption is under debate.

Its findings are based on a sub-national survey measuring budget transparency, participation, and the availability of public procurement information in all 36 Nigerian states.

As with national budget transparency, the survey found large gaps in the amount of state-level budget information being made available: the average state budget transparency score was just 26 out 100 (the average score for participation was also 26; while the provision of procurement information was 30).

Beyond averages, however, the survey uncovered considerable variation from state to state. Two states (Ekiti and Cross River) score much higher than the rest across all three measures.

Lagos, the country’s commercial capital, comes a distant third. Six states (Kaduna, Edo, Kwara, Katsina, and Oyo) languish at the bottom of the composite index, performing poorly across all three measures.

Budget transparency was assessed based on whether states produce and publish seven key budget documents. Unlike the Open Budget Survey, which only scores budgets documents that are published in a timely manner, states were given points for producing the document, scoring higher if the document was actually published.

The report found most documents were produced by at least half the states, but far fewer were available to the public. Just one state (Cross River) was found to have published a Citizens Budget.

The report explores whether income level, legislative environment, or degree of oil dependence explain differing scores.

Interestingly, none of these factors seem to account for the wide variation in scores. Wealthier states don’t seem to be more transparent or participatory, all states are relatively dependent on oil for revenue, and states with legal provisions on budget transparency in place seem to be failing to implement the letter of the law.

Political will, the report concludes, seems to be the decisive factor at play: progress has been largely driven by individual state governments prioritizing reforms and ensuring their implementation.

While the report noted that a new government led by President Muhammadu Buhari provides a platform of cleaning up the government, the report said ” beefing up oversight from within government will only drive progress so far.

” Civil society and the media should be recognized as important allies in the drive for greater efficiency and accountability.

“As the results of both the Open Budget Survey and the Nigerian States Budget Transparency Survey show, the ability for CSOs and the media to hold the government to account is severely constrained by a lack of budget information and a lack of space to participate in budget decisions.

” Beyond establishing new units in the finance ministry, the Buhari government should be encouraging scrutiny by CSOs and journalists by the public publishing the information needed to point out poor budgeting and inefficient practices.

“While the political will and mandate for change seems exists, the question remains: will the government drive change by opening up or by tightening its grip?”,the report asked.

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Blank NEWS Online founding Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, Albert Eruorhe Ograka, is a Graduate of Mass Communication. He also holds a Post Graduate Diploma (PGD) in Journalism from the International Institute of Journalism (IIJ).

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