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Nigeria

Citizen Participation in Budget Cycle (NG0001)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Nigeria National Action Plan 2017-2019

Action Plan Cycle: 2017

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: Federal Ministry of Budget and National Planning

Support Institution(s): Budget Office of the Federation, Federal Ministry of Finance, Office of the Accountant-General of the, Federation, Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation, Fiscal Responsibility Commission, National Assembly, Central Bank of Nigeria, National Orientation Agency, Ministry of Information. Public and Private Development Centre, BudgIT, Centre for Social Justice, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, Open Alliance, Nigerian Union of Journalists, CIRDDOC, Citizens Wealth Platform, Manufacurers Association of Nigeria, Christian Aid, Action Aid, One Campaign, WANGONeT, Professional Women Accountants of Nigeria, ANAN, OXFAM, FEDMU, NESG, ICAN, NACIMA

Policy Areas

Access to Information, E-Government, Fiscal Openness, Open Data, Oversight of Budget/Fiscal Policies, Public Participation, Public Participation in Budget/Fiscal Policy, Publication of Budget/Fiscal Information, Social Accountability

IRM Review

IRM Report: Nigeria Implementation Report 2017-2019, Nigeria Design Report 2017-2019

Starred: No

Early Results: Marginal

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information , Civic Participation , Technology

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

This commitment will ensure that citizens participate and make inputs into the budget process starting with the pre-budget statement, executive budget proposal, budget debate through public hearings in the legislature, implementation, monitoring and reporting of the budget. Budget information should also be made accessible to all.

IRM Midterm Status Summary

1. To ensure more effective citizens’ participation across the entire budget cycle.

Language of the commitment as it appears in the action plan:

“This commitment will ensure that citizens participate and make inputs into the budget process starting with the pre-budget statement, executive budget proposal, budget debate through public hearings in the legislature, implementation, monitoring and reporting of the budget. Budget information should also be made accessible to all.”

Milestones:

1.1. The Ministry of Budget and National Planning will hold two public fora to get citizens’ input into the pre-budget statements using the draft MTSS and MTEF document as tools/background documents in these forums.

1.2. Publish MDA budgets and quarterly and annual budget implementation reports on their websites in both human and machine-readable formats.

1.3. Conduct Needs Assessment with Reports accompanying budgets in selected sectors including Health, Education etc.

1.4. Annually publish a comprehensive citizen’s guide to the budget.

1.5. Adopt simple technology-based feedback mechanism for projects at community level for project monitoring by government and CSOs.

1.6. Conduct annual citizens’ satisfaction survey.

1.7. Publish timely, all key budget documents to facilitate citizens’ participation according to the Fiscal Responsibility Act.

1.8. Advocate for public hearings organized by the National Assembly on the budget.

1.9. Mobilize CSO and citizen participation in budget hearing.

Start Date: January 2017 End Date: June 2019

Action plan is available here:

Context and Objectives

The commitment sought to improve public participation in the budget design and implementation processes in Nigeria.

Prior to the commitment, Nigeria did not have an open budgeting system that accommodated public participation. [1] The International Budget Partnership’s 2017 Open Budget Survey found that Nigeria provides “few” opportunities for the public to engage in the budget process, with a score of 13 out of possible 100 points in public participation. This is a decline from 2015, when Nigeria scored 25 out of 100 points and “weak” opportunities for public engagement. [2] In Nigeria, the state plays a dominant role in the national political economy. The allocation of resources through the national budget is controlled by the ruling classes who have little incentive to make the budgeting process more open or participatory. [3]

The budgeting process in Nigeria is split between the legislative and executive and involves planning, approval, implementation, and auditing. Most of these processes are not open, and active participation is not encouraged. [4] Most access to information and civic participation occurs at the approval stage through public hearings in the House of Representatives and Senate. At the planning stage, CSOs are not enabled or encouraged to communicate their needs and concerns to government in a way that contributes to the Medium-Term Revenue Framework, the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF), or the Draft Budget. [5] This phase tends to be entirely dominated by the executive. [6] There are no formal avenues for citizen participation during the implementation stage, when the Ministry of Finance releases budget allocations to MDAs. [7] The Accountant-General, Auditor-General, and the National Assembly dominate the auditing phase. [8]

Limited civic participation hinders access to information. Prior to the commitment, government contracts were not published, and the budgets and quarterly and annual implementation reports of MDAs were generally only available through requests made under freedom of information legislation. [9] The Budget Office of the Federation did publish some budget documents [10] as well as annual Citizen’s Guides to the Budget since 2009. [11] However, the office’s website didn’t consistently publish all key budget documents despite being required by the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007; missing documents often included the MTEF, the Annual Budget and its supporting documents, [12] estimates of revenue and expenditure of government-owned corporations and agencies, and the Annual Cash Plan.

The commitment is relevant to the OGP value of civic participation as it proposed a number of activities to increase civic engagement in the budget process, including holding public forums to get citizens’ input in pre-budget statements, conducting needs assessments in selected sectors, developing a technology-based feedback mechanism for projects at the community level, and advocating for public hearings organized by the National Assembly on the budget. According to Abayomi Akinbo (BudGiT), it was necessary to infuse people into every aspect of the budget, by getting their feedback at every stage and by incorporating deliberations in the budget process. [13]

The commitment is also relevant to the OGP value of access to information as it calls for additional budget-related documents to be made public, such as MDA budgets and quarterly and annual budget implementation reports, a citizen’s guide to the budget, and “all key budget documents” to facilitate public participation according to the Fiscal Responsibility Act. [14] This commitment addresses the OGP value of technology and innovation for transparency and accountability through Milestone 1.5 (technology-based feedback mechanism).

The commitment’s activities are mostly verifiable. For example, the two forums on pre-budget planning, the publication of MDA budgets online, the citizen’s guide to the budget, and the citizen satisfaction survey could all be verified independently. However, Milestone 1.9 was less clear in its call to “mobilize CSO and citizen participation in budget hearings.” Also, Milestone 1.7 did not provide a timeline for the publication of key budget documents.

If implemented, this commitment will moderately impact open budgeting in Nigeria by bolstering access to information and civic participation in all four phases of the budget cycle. Public support for citizen input on pre-budget statements and needs assessments may promote civic participation during the planning phase. Mobilizing CSO and citizen participation in budget hearings, advocating for more public hearings on the budget in the National Assembly, and continuing to publish annual citizen guides to the budget may sustain and improve access to information and civic participation during the approval stage. Timely publication of all key budget documents, quarterly and annual publication of the budget implementation reports of MDAs, and a mechanism for monitoring projects at a community level could significantly improve very low levels of access to information and civic participation during the implementation phase. An annual citizens’ satisfaction survey would supplement auditing by the Accountant General and Auditor Generals.

Next steps

This commitment can make the budgetary process more accessible and participatory and therefore, transparent and accountable. [15] Based on the findings of this commitment’s design, future commitments in this area could include:

  • Reviewing the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2007 to strengthen existing provisions [16] that accommodate access to information and public consultation during the four phases of the budget cycle;
  • Measuring civic participation during the budget phases and identifying causes for any low participation rates;
  • Establishing specific guidelines on national public and CSO participation in budget hearings, particularly, specific guidelines on how citizen feedback will be incorporated into the budget;
  • Ensuring that information sources are accessible through different communication channels (leaflets, TV, radio) to accommodate Nigerians who cannot easily access online sources;
  • Including more details in some commitments, for example, deadlines for MDAs to publish their quarterly budget implementation reports and annual reports, or the specific sectors in which needs assessments will be conducted;
  • Government establishment of specific guidelines on national public participation, highlighting how citizen feedback will be incorporated into the budget; and
  • Ensuring that the civic participation spaces exist not just on paper but function in practice, possibly through some form of enforcement from central government.
[1] Emekah C. Iloh et al., “Open budget systems and participatory budgeting in Africa: A comparative analysis of Nigeria and Ghana 2012, 2015” Asian Journal of Social Sciences 17 no. 4 (2018): 45.
[2] International Budget Partnership, “Nigeria” (accessed Nov. 2019), https://www.internationalbudget.org/budget-work-by-country/findgroup/group-data/?country=ng.
[3] Iloh et al., 51.
[4] Iloh et al., 53.
[5] CISLAC, Legislative and Budget Processes in Nigeria (2007).
[6] Iloh et al., 53.
[7] Iloh et al., 54.
[8] Iloh et al., 55.
[9] Alfred Okoh, (Budget Office), interview by IRM researcher, 13 Nov. 2018.
[10] Budget Office of the Federation, “Budget Document” (accessed Nov. 2019), https://budgetoffice.gov.ng/index.php/resources/internal-resources/budget-documents.
[11] Budget Office of the Federation, “Citizens Guide to the Budget”(accessed Nov. 2019), https://budgetoffice.gov.ng/index.php/resources/internal-resources/citizens-guide-to-the-budget.
[12] Federal Republic of Nigeria, Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007 Act no. 31 (International Budget Partnership, accessed Nov. 2009) §19.
[13] Yomi Akinbo, (BudgiT/Open Alliance), interview by IRM researcher, 15 Nov. 2018.
[14] Federal Republic of Nigeria, Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007.
[15] Dr. Anne Nzegwu (Deputy Director, National Budget and Planning Office), interview by IRM researcher, 7 Mar. 2019.
[16] See, for example, §13(2) of the act allowing public consultation on the MTEF.

IRM End of Term Status Summary

1. Ensure more effective citizens’ participation across the entire budget cycle

Language of the commitment as it appears in the action plan:

“This commitment will ensure that citizens participate and make inputs into the budget process starting with the pre-budget statement, executive budget proposal, budget debate through public hearings in the legislature, implementation, monitoring and reporting of the budget. Budget information should also be made accessible to all.”

Milestones:

1.1 The Ministry of Budget and National Planning will hold two public fora to get citizens’ input into the pre-budget statements using the draft MTSS and MTEF document as tools/background documents in these forums.

1.2 Publish MDA budgets and quarterly and annual budget implementation reports on their websites in both human and machine-readable formats.

1.3 Conduct Needs Assessment with Reports accompanying budgets in selected sectors including Health, Education etc.

1.4 Annually publish a comprehensive citizen’s guide to the budget.

1.5 Adopt simple technology-based feedback mechanism for projects at community level for project monitoring by government and CSOs.

1.6 Conduct annual citizens’ satisfaction survey.

1.7 Publish timely, all key budget documents to facilitate citizens’ participation according to the Fiscal Responsibility Act.

1.8 Advocate for public hearings organized by the National Assembly on the budget.

1.9 Mobilize CSO and citizen participation in budget hearing.

IRM Design Report Assessment

IRM Implementation Report Assessment

●        Verifiable: Yes

●        Relevant: Yes

o   Access to Information, Civic Participation, Technology and Innovation for Participation and Accountability

●        Potential impact: Moderate

●        Completion: Substantial

●        Did it Open Government? Marginal

This commitment sought to improve public participation in budget design and implementation processes in Nigeria.

Prior to 2017, Nigeria’s budget process offered little to no opportunities for public participation or discussion. [1] Opportunities for citizen participation were sporadic, restricted to CSOs, and lacked structure for standardized participation. [2] When public budget discussions occurred, they were in a townhall meeting style where representatives of different economic sectors shared their findings and recommendations on the budget. [3] Nigeria's budget process ranked low internationally for participation and transparency. According to the Open Budget Survey, Nigeria scored 17 out of 100 points for transparency and 13 out of 100 points for public participation in 2017. [4]

This commitment was substantially completed. The government provided greater access to budget information by publishing documents. However, many documents were not published in a timely manner as required by the Fiscal Responsibility Act. [5] The government published ministries’, departments’, and agencies’ (MDAs') quarterly and annual budget implementation reports. [6] The government also published comprehensive citizens’ guides for the 2017, 2018, and 2019 budgets on the Ministry of Budget website. [7] The guides summarized the 2,000 page budget document into 25−35 pages with infographics and cartoon versions. [8] According to the 2019 Open Budget Survey, Nigeria’s mid-year review, pre-budget statement, in-year, and audit reports were produced late or only for internal purposes. [9] The representative from the Federal Ministry of Budget and Planning reported that the Budget Calendar exists only as an internal document. [10] The government conducted a needs assessment as set out in the commitment through the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan 2017–2020. However, the citizens’ satisfaction survey was not conducted and was carried over into the next action plan. [11]

Citizens had greater access to the budget process as a direct result of implementation. The Budget Office of the Federation held six public hearings, which included a public presentation on the medium-term expenditure framework, budget proposal, and the draft pre-budget statement. At these hearings, the Budget Office collated suggestions for final revisions from the public. [12] However, IBP notes that the Office did not share the draft budget in advance or provide feedback on which suggestions were incorporated. [13] Following receipt of the pre-budget statement, the National Assembly held televised two-day budget public forums in 2017, 2018, and 2019. [14] Additionally, Open Alliance National Coordinator, Ayomide Faleye, reports that civil society attended the last budget hearings for the 2020 budget in October 2019. [15] She states that CSOs were invited to public hearings organised by the Joint Appropriation Committee on Budget to present their findings and recommendations on the budget before it is passed. [16] However, CSOs and the public did not have access to the final phase in which committee feedback is consolidated in the budget. [17] The continuation of this commitment in Nigeria's 2019−2021 action plan offers the opportunity to continue to deepen citizen engagement in budget formation and implementation.

Government attempts to engage citizens through technology struggled to overcome obstacles. The Budget Office created the tech platform, i-Monitor, to increase citizen participation. However, according to Ayomide Faleye, citizens did not use i-Monitor, as the feedback section of the platform was not functional. [18] In late 2019, the Budget Office created the Citizens' Budget App as an alternative to i-Monitor in response to advocacy from citizen groups. At the time of writing, the Google Play store shows there have been only around 50 downloads, suggesting low use among the public. [19] However, civil society has independently attempted to meet the need for tech platforms for civic engagement. The government's increased publication of budget documents enabled civil society to create budget tracking tools. [20] The CSO, BudgIT, produced Tracka.ng to monitor capital budget implementation across the country. [21] Additionally, the Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism and Order Paper Advocacy Initiative produced udeme.ng and constrack.ng to track constituency project implementation. [22]

Obstacles to complete implementation of this commitment include the lack of a supportive legal framework and delayed budget processes. The budget process is often delayed by MDAs’ late submissions and a complex budget approval process. Existing legislation does not assign specific penalties for missing deadlines. [23] There is also no explicit legal framework that defines requirements for public participation. [24] Despite these challenges, the government's achievements during its first implementation period lays groundwork for complete implementation and transformative changes through the second action plan.

Overall, this commitment marginally changed citizens’ participation and access to budget information by the end of the implementation period. The government now provides a greater amount of budget information in more formats through multiple channels. The government has created new, if limited, opportunities to receive public feedback on the budget. However, further government mechanisms are needed to show how citizen input informs the budget-making process. Specific to this commitment, this includes: government feedback on what public inputs were incorporated into the budget and why; timely publication of budget documents; and a fully functional feedback platform. [25]

[1] Emekah C. Iloh, Michael E. Mokwedi, Chikamso E. Apeh, and Chizoba Obidigbo, “Open budget systems and participatory budgeting in Africa: A comparative analysis of Nigeria and Ghana 2012, 2015” Asian Journal of Social Sciences 17, no. 4 (2018), 45. 
[2] Austin Ndiokwelu and Atiku Samuel (International Budget Partnership), interview by IRM researcher, 11 Jun. 2020.
[3] Ayomide Faleye (Coordinator Open Alliance/BudgiT), interview by IRM researcher, May 24 2020.
[4] International Budget Partnership, "Nigeria" Open Budget Survey 2017 (2017), https://www.internationalbudget.org/wp-content/uploads/nigeria-open-budget-survey-2017-summary.pdf.  
[5] Bailey Oluwabunmi, “Nigeria drops 7 places on budget transparency index” Business Day (28 Apr. 2020), https://businessday.ng/budget-ng/article/nigeria-drops-7-places-on-budget-transparency-index/.
[6] Budget Office of the Federation, Federal Republic of Nigeria, “Quarterly Budget Implementation Reports – Sub Categories” (2021), https://budgetoffice.gov.ng/index.php/resources/internal-resources/reports/quarterly-budget-implementation-report.  
[7] Budget Office of the Federation, Federal Republic of Nigeria, “Citizens Guide to the Budget – Sub Categories” (2021), https://budgetoffice.gov.ng/index.php/resources/internal-resources/citizens-guide-to-the-budget.
[8] Alfred Okoh (Federal Ministry of Budget and Planning), email correspondence with IRM, 24 Jun. 2020.
[9] International Budget Partnership, "Nigeria" Open Budget Survey 2019 (2019), https://www.internationalbudget.org/open-budget-survey/country-results/2019/nigeria.
[10] Okoh, email.
[11] Id.; Ministry of Budget & National Planning, Economic Recovery & Growth Plan 2017-2020 (Federal Republic of Nigeria, Feb. 2017), https://www.budgetoffice.gov.ng/index.php/economic-recovery-growth-plan?task=document.viewdoc&id=343.
[12] Okoh, email.
[13] Ndiokwelu and Samuel, interview.
[14] Budget Office of the Federation, Ministry of Budget and National Planning, “Coordination and Implementation of Open Budget Commitment of the OGP Nigeria National Action Plan 2017-2019 (Government of Nigeria, May 2019) 28 and 33, https://www.budgetoffice.gov.ng/index.php/coordination-implementation-of-open-budget-commitment-of-the-ogp-nigeria-national-action-plan-2017-2019?task=document.viewdoc&id=721; Okoh, email.
[15] Faleye, interview.
[16] Id.
[17] Ndiokwelu and Samuel, interview.
[18] Faleye, interview.
[19] Budget Office of the Federation, Nigeria, Citizens Budget App (Google Play Store, accessed 2 Sept. 2020), https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.bariansystem.citizen_monitor.
[20] Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed (Honorable Minister of Finance, Budget & National Planning), “Highlights/Breakdown of the 2020 Executive Budget Proposal” (Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, 14 Oct. 2019), https://pwcnigeria.typepad.com/files/2020-budget-breakdown.pdf.
[21] Tracka is available at: https://tracka.ng/home.
[22] Udeme is available at: https://udeme.ng/; ConsTrack is available at: https://www.constrack.ng/.
[23] Ndiokwelu and Samuel, interview.
[24] Jessica Espey (SDSN TReNDS Director), “BudgIT empowers Nigerian citizens through open data” (TRENDS 27 Sept. 2018), https://www.sdsntrends.org/research/2018/9/27/case-study-open-data-budgit-nigeria.
[25] Sahara Reporters, “BudgIT Advises Nigerian Government As Country Scores Low In Global Budget Survey” (3 May 2020), http://saharareporters.com/2020/05/03/budgit-advises-nigerian-government-country-scores-low-global-budget-survey.

Commitments

  1. Participatory Budgeting

    NG0015, 2019, Anti-Corruption

  2. Implement Open Contracting and the Open Contracting Data Standard

    NG0016, 2019, Access to Information

  3. Transparent Tax Revenue Reporting

    NG0017, 2019, Access to Information

  4. Open Contracting and Licensing in Extractives

    NG0018, 2019, Access to Information

  5. Implement EITI Standard

    NG0019, 2019, Anti-Corruption

  6. Establish Beneficial Ownership Registry

    NG0020, 2019, Access to Information

  7. Strengthen Asset Recovery Legislation

    NG0021, 2019, Anti-Corruption

  8. Implement National Anti-Corruption Strategy

    NG0022, 2019, Anti-Corruption

  9. Improve Compliance with Freedom of Information Act with Focus on Records Management

    NG0023, 2019, Access to Information

  10. Improved Compliance with Mandatory Publication Provisions Requirement (FOIA)

    NG0024, 2019, Access to Information

  11. Implement Permanent Dialogue Mechanism

    NG0025, 2019, Access to Justice

  12. Aggregate Citizens' Feedback on Programs

    NG0026, 2019, E-Government

  13. Freedom of Association, Assembly, and Expression

    NG0027, 2019, Civic Space

  14. Enhance Participation of the Vulnerable

    NG0028, 2019, Capacity Building

  15. Implement New Computer Program in 6 Government Ministries to Improve Service Delivery

    NG0029, 2019, Capacity Building

  16. Legal Instrument to Strengthen SERVICOM

    NG0030, 2019, Legislation & Regulation

  17. Citizen Participation in Budget Cycle

    NG0001, 2017, Access to Information

  18. Open Contracting

    NG0002, 2017, Access to Information

  19. Extractive Sector Transparency

    NG0003, 2017, Access to Information

  20. Tax Reporting Standards

    NG0004, 2017, Fiscal Openness

  21. World Bank Doing Business Index

    NG0005, 2017, Fiscal Openness

  22. Beneficial Ownership Register

    NG0006, 2017, Anti-Corruption

  23. Anti-Corruption Informationi Sharing

    NG0007, 2017, Anti-Corruption

  24. Asset Recovery Legislation

    NG0008, 2017, Capacity Building

  25. Anti-Corruption Activity Coordination

    NG0009, 2017, Anti-Corruption

  26. FOIA Compliance for Annual Reporting

    NG0010, 2017, Access to Information

  27. FOIA Compliance for Disclosure

    NG0011, 2017, Access to Information

  28. Permanent Dialogue Mechanism

    NG0012, 2017, Fiscal Openness

  29. Joint Governmnet-Civil Society Legislation Review

    NG0013, 2017, Fiscal Openness

  30. Technology-Based Citizens' Feedback

    NG0014, 2017, E-Government

Open Government Partnership