Why our budgets are not published online – State Govts

President Buhari with Nigerian governors
President Buhari with Nigerian governors

Several months after many of them passed and assented to their 2018 budgets, less than half of Nigeria’s 36 states have made the yearly revenue and expenditure plans accessible online to citizens.

Of the 15 states that have posted their budgets online, only 13 states provided the full details, according to research by civic advocacy firm, BudgIT.

States that have published their budgets online are Borno, Delta, Edo, Ekiti, Gombe, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kogi and Kwara.

The others are Lagos, Nasarawa, Ondo, Plateau and Yobe.

Lagos and Kwara, however, did not give full details of the budgets in the online publications.

States that have not published at all are Abia, Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Benue, Cross River, Ebonyi, Enugu, Ogun and Osun.

Also yet to publish are Oyo, Sokoto, Taraba, Zamfara, Rivers, Niger, Kebbi, Jigawa and Imo states.

Following inquiries by Premium Times, officials gave various reasons for not uploading details of their budgets on the official websites of their state governments.

Spokesperson of Governor of Zamfara State, Ibrahim Dosara, said the state’s budget had been published in newspapers and on social media platforms.

“It is not that we don’t make our budget public, we do because whenever we sign our budget into law, we publish it in newspapers,” Mr Dosara said.

“We also publish it through other media platforms like Facebook and some online newspapers. If you go to our website, you’ll see it there. If you check the State Assembly’s website, you’ll also get it. Our Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning also published it on their own website,” he further claimed.

But when our reporter checked the websites mentioned by Mr Dosara, the budget was not found there, even though he insisted it was there.

Terver Akase, spokesperson of Governor of Benue State, said the state did not see the need to publish the budget online, arguing the failure does not imply secrecy.

“Our budget is always public. I don’t have it where I am speaking with you, but it is not a hidden document, Benue State publishes its account at the end of every year. Why would a budget be a secret document?

“The budget is always submitted to the state assembly, the state assembly is like the people’s assembly where representatives from all parts of the state gather, so when you have your document before them, that means that document is not in secret, anybody can approach the assembly and ask to be given a copy of the budget,“ Mr Akase said.

The Jigawa State Government also said they did not see the need to publish the budget on their website.

The spokesperson to the state governor, Bello Saki, said “We didn’t see the need. Thank you for alerting us now; I’ll contact the people from far and tell them to work on the budget department.”

The Chief Press Secretary to Governor of Abia, Goodwin Adindu, said no law demanded that the budget be published online.

“Why must we make it available online? Which law says we must make our budget available online? Is there any website that says Nigeria should submit their budget?

“If you need our budget, we’ll give you, not coming to meet me to answer questions when it doesn’t say states should make their budgets available online.

“I don’t think it is our duty or compulsory to make our budget available online. Who requested that? Why must we,” he said.

Other states spokespersons did not respond to calls or text messages on the issue.

“Shrouding public finance information in secrecy thereby encourages corruption and mediocre performance in the states,” Abiola Afolabi, BudgIT’s communications lead told the News Agency of Nigeria.

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