Foreign donor agencies providing aid and financial assistance to Nigeria for the execution of various development projects should publish details of such funding, the Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Legislative Budget and Research, Mike Etaba, has said.
Mr Etaba (PDP), who represents Obubra-Etung Federal Constituency in Cross River State, made the call on a delegation of the UK-based non-governmental organisation, ‘Publish-What-You-Fund (PWYF)” visited him in his office in Abuja.
The PWYF is similar to the Publish-What-You-Pay (PWYP), a civil society group leading the advocacy for companies working in the extractive industries in resource-rich countries to disclose what they pay to their host governments in terms of royalties and taxes for the exploitation of those resources.
The lawmaker said the call has become an imperative as the impact of the various assistance programmes from international donor agencies like the United States Agency for International Development and the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development is hardly felt at the grassroots level where majority of Nigerian masses reside.
“I chair the Legislative Budget and Research Committee of the House of Representatives. Part of our functions as a Committee includes looking at the activities of the donor agencies. We are supposed to coordinate the donor agencies to ensure where they put their resources and funds will flow to the intended project,” he said.
“We feel strongly that the impact of the aid from international donor agencies is not being felt by Nigerians. The questions we have always asked are: ‘How do you track what the donor agencies are giving and how do you ensure the assistance is getting to the intended places?
“How do the activities of the donor agencies impact on the masses? Those are the issues that bother Nigerians, and that is why our committee is willing to work with donor agencies and organisations to improve things in the right direction,” he added.
He called on development partners to support the National Assembly Budget and Research Office (NABRO) Establishment Bill currently before the National Assembly seeking to sanitize the operations of the donor agencies.
The Bill, he said, when passed into law will bring transparency to the budgeting system in Nigeria by strengthening the lawmakers to analyse the national budget prior to its presentation and debate on the floor of the National Assembly.
He said he expects the donor agencies to step in and lobby for the speedy passage of the bill into law for Nigerians to have a smooth and transparent budgeting process.
Speaking earlier, the Chief Executive Officer of ‘Publish-What-You-Fund’, Gary Forster, said his organisation envisages a world where aid and development information is transparent, available and used for effective decision making, public accountability and lasting change for all citizens.
“Publish What You Fund is a global campaign for aid transparency. Traditionally, we have monitored the transparency of international donors from a global level. We produce reports every two years and put them in the Aid Transparency Index, which monitors how much information donors are sharing,” Mr Forster said.
He said the last version of the Index monitors 45 agencies, including the USAID, DFID and other multilateral development banks, such as the African Development Bank, the International Finance Corporation (IFC).
The agencies monitored included some foundations, such as the Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation.
He said the delegation was in Nigeria to understand how the donor agencies funding information is used or how the government wants to use it or what more they need to assist their work.
Mr Forster was accompanied to the meeting by Alex Tilley, the Research Manager at the Publish What You Fund group.