Citizen Participation in Budget Cycle (NG0001)
Action Plan: Nigeria National Action Plan 2017-2019
Action Plan Cycle: 2017
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 AreasAccess 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
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.”
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.  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.  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. 
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.  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.  This phase tends to be entirely dominated by the executive.  There are no formal avenues for citizen participation during the implementation stage, when the Ministry of Finance releases budget allocations to MDAs.  The Accountant-General, Auditor-General, and the National Assembly dominate the auditing phase. 
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.  The Budget Office of the Federation did publish some budget documents  as well as annual Citizen’s Guides to the Budget since 2009.  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,  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. 
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.  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.
This commitment can make the budgetary process more accessible and participatory and therefore, transparent and accountable.  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  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.
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