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Kwara State Budget Lacks Transparency - BudgIT

Less than half of Nigeria’s 36 states have made their 2018 budget available online to the public.

Of the 15 states that have done so, only 13 states provided full details of the budget, a civic transparency group, BudgIT said on Tuesday.

The group, therefore, urged Nigerians to demand that their states make details of their budgets available.

Abiola Afolabi, the organisation’s communications lead, listed the states that have made the budgets public to include “Borno, Delta, Edo, Ekiti, Gombe, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kogi, Kwara, Lagos, Nasarawa, Ondo, Plateau and Yobe.”

Two of these, Lagos and Kwara, however, did not provide full details of their budgets.

The organisation said while Lagos and Kwara States provided a summary of their budgets on the government websites, the document provided lacked actionable details with which citizens could hold their elected officials accountable.

Mr Afolabi, as quoted by the News Agency of Nigeria, said officials of his organisation observed these while conducting an online assessment on the availability of public finance documents in state government domains.

PREMIUM TIMES had earlier reported how the government in Lagos, Nigeria’s richest state by a wide margin, shrouds details of its finances in secrecy.

Several requests for information by this paper and other media and civic groups are routinely ignored by the state government, which is also arguing in court that Nigeria’s Freedom of Information law should not apply to it.

On Tuesday, BudgIT said it also observed the same in its review of Lagos, and Kwara’s finances.

“Our organisation would like to state explicitly that Lagos and Kwara States have a history of capacity over the years and are notorious for resisting attempts by citizens to pry into the affairs of the state.

“Shrouding public finance information in secrecy thereby encourages corruption and mediocre performance in the states.

“The #StateofStates advocacy continues to critically look at the proactiveness in the disclosure of information in the Nigerian states and their compliance with the Freedom of Information law where applied,” Mr Afolabi said.

He said transparency in the states continued the downward swing as governments persist in denying citizens access to relevant information.

“It is commendable that the states released full budget documents to the public, but it must be published within a reasonable timeframe,” he added.

He said the proposed budget details presented to the State House of Assembly should be made available to the public to enable people to engage their legislators during the budget debate.

Mr Afolabi explained that any state keen on the participation of citizens in governance should publish full details of the proposal within 48 hours of submission to the legislature.

He also called on Nigerians to keep an eye on the funds and follow the money.

“Across the world, transparency has been noted to foster citizens’ trust in government and increasing investor confidence.

“States with partially detailed budgets documents in public domains must provide details of capital projects being executed for the fiscal year,” Mr Afolabi said.

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