The anti-corruption campaign of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration does not appear to be flying within some concerned circles.
Buhari came to power in 2015 on the wings of the All Progressives Congress (APC) promising Change. But the change is yet to be made manifest in the area of budgeting.
An open budget concern, International Budget Partnership (IBP) has frowned seriously at the Buhari administration, saying the government of Nigeria under his watch, is weak in providing the public with opportunities to engage in the budget process.
To therefore, improve the situation, IBP is pushing for the establishment of credible and effective mechanisms (i.e., public hearings, surveys, focus groups) for capturing a range of public perspectives during budget planning, and introduce public engagement mechanisms to support monitoring of budget implementation.
They want the country to be holding legislative hearings to review and scrutinise audit reports.as well as establish formal mechanisms for the public to assist the supreme audit institution to formulate its audit program and participate in audit investigations.
IBP has been leading the field for 20 years, taking on the challenge of making public finance systems worldwide more transparent and accountable through its work in four interlinked areas that combine country-based civil society pressure with increased pressure from international institutions, together with efforts to generate effective advocacy for more open and responsive budgeting.
Their report on Nigeria published on their website has it that the Federal Government provides the public with minimal budget information.
IBP however, scored the National Assembly high pointing out that budget oversight by the legislative arm of government in the country is adequate. The budget group also added that the budget oversight by the supreme audit institution in Nigeria is limited.
In line with the vociferous anti-corruption campaign of the Buhari administration, IBP wants Nigeria prioritise the following actions to improve budget transparency:
- Publish a Mid-Year Review and Audit Report.
- Publish in a timely manner the Pre-Budget Statement and In-Year Reports.
- Increase the comprehensiveness of the Executive’s Budget Proposal by presenting more details on classification of expenditures for future, prior, and budget years and on classification of revenues for future and budget years.
To improve oversight, they are advocating for the prioritisation the following actions to strengthen budget oversight:
- Ensure the Executive’s Budget Proposal is provided to legislators at least three months before the start of the budget year.
- In both law and practice, ensure the legislature is consulted prior to the spending of contingency funds that were not identified in the Enacted Budget.
- Ensure the supreme audit institution has adequate funding to perform its duties, as determined by an independent body (e.g., the legislature or judiciary).