Participatory Budgeting (NG0015)
Action Plan: Nigeria Action Plan 2019-2021
Action Plan Cycle: 2019
Lead Institution: Budget Office of the Federation
Support Institution(s): Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Budget Office of the Federation, 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 FIRS, National Bureau of statistics, Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria, National Assembly, Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Budget Office of the Federation, 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 FIRS, National Bureau of statistics, Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria, National Assembly, BudgIT, Public and Private Development Centre, Centre for Social Justice, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, Nigerian Union of Journalists, Civil Resource Development and Documentation Centre (CIRDDOC), Citizens Wealth Platform, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, Christian Aid, Action Aid, One Campaign, WANGONeT, Professional Women Accountants of Nigeria, ANAN, OXFAM, FEDMU, NESG, ICAN, NACIMA, African Network for Environment and Economic Governance, Paradigm Leadership Support Initiative (PLSI), Order Paper Advocacy Initiative, Policy Alert, Initiative for Collective Voice, Accountability & Progress (ICoVAP) , PTCIJ, CLERD, ILF, Connected Development (CODE), Transparency and Accountability in Totality (FollowTaxes), Citizen Voices for Accountability & Progress Initiative
Policy AreasAnti-Corruption, Audits and Controls, E-Government, Education, Fiscal Openness, Health, Legislation & Regulation, Legislative, Open Parliaments, Participation in Lawmaking, Public Participation, Public Participation in Budget/Fiscal Policy, Public Service Delivery, Publication of Budget/Fiscal Information, Social Accountability Measures & Feedback Loops, Water and Sanitation
Brief description of commitment:
This commitment will ensure that citizens participate and make inputs into the budget process, starting with the pre-budget statement (Call Circular, MTEF, MTSS, etc.), executive budget proposal, budget debate through public hearings in the legislature, implementation, monitoring, reporting and auditing of the budget. It will also guarantee that budget information is made accessible to all.
Problem of challenge addressed:
There is inadequate citizens’ engagement and participation in the budget preparation, approval, implementation monitoring and audit process. This results in citizens not having information, and thus not being able to relate to the projects in the budget. This ultimately weakens accountability in resource allocations.
Specific OGP Issue:
i. Low citizens’ participation in the budget cycle.
ii. Ineffective management of public resources.
iii. Poor public services ratings.
iv. Low budget performance.
v. Weak transparency mechanism.
Rationale for the Commitment:
By making budget information available and accessible to all citizens promptly and in a usable format, this commitment will improve accountability on the part of Government, provide openness and transparency in the budget process, and ensure that citizens are engaged throughout the budget cycle.
To ensure that budget planning, approval, implementation, monitoring, reporting, auditing meet the needs of citizens and that citizens have open access to budget information in a format that is both human and machine-readable.
Improved transparent and accountable citizens-oriented governance, through effective budget implementation and participation.
See action plan for milestone activities.
IRM Midterm Status Summary
1. Citizen participation in the budget cycle
“To ensure that budget planning, approval, implementation, monitoring, reporting, auditing meet the needs of citizens and that citizens have open access to budget information in a format that is both human and machine-readable”
- Conduct Annual Needs Assessment Survey; reports would accompany budgets in selected sectors including Health, Education, etc.
- To hold two public forums to obtain citizens’ input into the pre- budget statements using the draft MTSS and MTEF documents as tools/background documents in these forums.
- Public hearings organized by the National Assembly on the budget.
- Mobilize CSO and citizen participation in the budget hearing.
- Annually publish a comprehensive citizens’ guide to the budget.
- Conduct annual citizens’ satisfaction survey.
- Timely publish all key budget documents, including project by project release to all MDAs to facilitate citizens’ participation according to the Fiscal Responsibility Act.
- Publish MDA budgets, as well as quarterly and annual budget implementation reports on MDA websites in both human and machine-readable formats.
- Adopt a simple technology-based feedback mechanism for projects at the community level for project monitoring by government and CSOs
- Timely publish a report of budget monitoring in accordance with Fiscal Responsibility Act
- To carry out multi-stakeholder engagement on the actualization of a definite budget calendar – the lack of observing a clear financial year affects citizens’ participation in the budgeting process and indeed creates a knock-on effect on all other stages of the budget.
- Coordination and establishment of Fiscal Transparency portal
- Conduct citizen participatory audit on government programs/projects implemented in selected sectors including Health, Education, Water, Sanitation and Social Investments, etc.
- Advocate for timely publishing of audit recommendations by the National Assembly
- Advocate for timely implementation of audit recommendations by Executive agencies
Editorial Note: For the complete text of this commitment, please see Nigeria’s action plan at https://www.opengovpartnership.org/documents/nigeria-action-plan-2019-2021/
This commitment aims to increase fiscal transparency by improving timeliness of the budget and increasing citizen participation in the budget and the audit process. In 2019, the International Budgetary Partnership’s (IBP) Open Budget Survey (OBS) ranked Nigeria’s fiscal transparency 97 out of 117 countries, with a score of 21 of 100 – falling below other West African countries.  This commitment builds from Commitment 1 of Nigeria’s 2017–2019 action plan. Under the previous action plan, Nigeria published key budget documents, including quarterly and annual budget implementation reports of MDAs.  However, activities to ensure the timely publication of budget documents, like the audited accounts  mandated by Nigeria’s Fiscal Responsibility Act, were not fully implemented. 
This commitment includes 15 milestones, the first 9 of which continue activities from the previous action plan, including those not fully completed.  To increase citizen participation in the budget process, activities aim to continue public hearings on the pre-budget statement and at the National Assembly along with publishing the citizens’ guides to the budget. Another milestone calls for CSOs to conduct a citizens’ satisfaction survey that was not implemented during the previous action plan but that would supplement auditing by the Accountant General and Auditor Generals.  To increase the timeliness of the budget process, this commitment includes a new milestone (11), which calls for the executive to sponsor a constitutional amendment establishing a budget timeline in addition to activities on the timely publication of budget documents, including MDA budget and implementation reports. To improve transparency, this commitment entails the creation of a fiscal transparency portal that would track government budget, transactions, and spending,  providing citizens with one stop for all the existing portals related to fiscal transparency.  Finally, to increase citizen participation in the audit process, a new activity calls for a citizen participatory audit on government programs implemented in selected sectors, including Health, Education, Water, Sanitation, and Social Investments.
This commitment is relevant to the OGP value of access to information because it seeks to ensure the timely publication of key budget documents, such as reports on budget monitoring, audit recommendations, and the citizen’s guide to the budget. It is also relevant to civic participation, introducing participatory audits on government projects in critical sectors.
If fully implemented, this commitment could have a transformative impact on the timeliness of the budget process, accessibility of budget documents, and citizen participation in the budget and audit processes. The commitment includes verifiable activities and detailed descriptions of expected outcomes and goals.
The activities to improve the timeliness of the budget process respond to major challenges the Nigerian government faces. According to OBS, Nigeria’s Mid-Year Review, Pre-Budget Statement, In-Year, and Audit Reports were produced late or only for internal purposes.  MDAs typically do not file budgets on time, delaying the approval of the budget, which is then further delayed by a complex approval process – which has been completed as late as May rather than January. This has resulted in the overlap of annual budgets, forcing the National Assembly to pass legislation allowing implementation of the capital budget to extend into the following year.  In a positive step, the 2020 Budget was signed into law in December 2019, making it the earliest budget approved in decades.  According to a representative of the Federal Ministry of Budget and Planning, the budget calendar exists only as an internal document.  The existing legislation does not assign specific penalties for missing deadlines. According to the representatives of the International Budget Partnership, a constitutional amendment to actualize the budget calendar would systematically improve the timeliness of Nigeria’s budget process. In 2017, a similar constitutional amendment was not signed, but according to the IBP, stronger political support currently exists.  Increasing stakeholder engagement in institutionalizing the budget calendar could help bring about this change.
This commitment does not propose major changes to existing procedures for citizen participation in the budget process, which faces limitations due to the lack of an explicit legal framework defining requirements for public participation.  During Nigeria’s first action plan, the Ministry expanded opportunities for citizen feedback, holding public hearings on the draft pre-budget statement and then collating relevant suggestions for inclusion in final revisions.  IBP notes that during previous years, the draft was not shared in advance of the session, and the Ministry did not provide information upon which suggestions are included.  When the National Assembly received the pre-budget statement, it held a televised  two-day budget forum open to the public. Such public consultations took place in 2017, 2018, and 2019.  This was followed by committee discussions, which were less open to the public, and a phase to incorporate the committees’ discussions, which was not open to the public.  Under the first action plan, Nigeria also published comprehensive citizens’ guides to the 2017, 2018, and 2019 budgets, available on the Ministry of Budget’s website.  These guides summarized the more than 2,000 page budget document into 25–35 pages with infographics and also offered an animated version. 
The proposed fiscal transparency portal could increase the budget process’s transparency by streamlining existing technology-based feedback mechanisms, which have faced certain implementation challenges. A citizens’ budget portal was launched in 2017, attached to iMonitor, which was meant to provide a means of monitoring government projects. However, according to BudgIT, technical issues have limited usability.  Additionally, the Open Treasury Portal was launched in 2019 and offers access to daily treasury statements, daily payment reports, monthly budget performance reports, monthly fiscal accounts, quarterly budget performance reports, quarterly MDA financial statements, quarterly consolidated financial statements, annual general purpose financial statements, and COVID-19 eradication donations.  Despite potential benefits, the Ministry of Budget does not deem the fiscal transparency portal feasible at this juncture. 
Finally, activities to conduct citizen participatory audits could be completely new – although the commitment does not make it clear whether these would take place as part of the formal audit process or would be run independently by the civil society. CSOs interviewed consider this milestone to be unprecedented, as Nigeria has never had a citizen participatory audit.  However, all interviewed experts questioned the feasibility of implementation given current challenges with the audit processes and significant delays in producing audit reports. To date, opportunities for public participation in the audit process have been largely nonexistent, with a 2019 OBS score of 0/100.  The Supreme Audit Institution usually conducts its audits internally without any public engagement. The Director General of the Supreme Audit Institution submits the audit to the National Assembly, which then determines whether to run an ad hoc inquiry or to use committee hearings. The National Assembly’s process for discussing the audit report is open only to journalists, and conclusions on the consequences or recommendations to the executive are not publicly available. 
Transparency and citizen participation in the budget process is an important policy area for Nigeria that can produce positive tangible results in the short and long term. Local CSOs, BudgIT, and the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) both commended the Budget Office’s efforts to improve fiscal transparency in the country. BudgIT noted that the Budget Office has been one of the most forthcoming institutions in the OGP process. IBP confirmed that the ministry has the “competence and political will” to deliver on the promises of this commitment. 
For future action plans, it is recommended to structure and combine milestones of similar nature into more coherent and independent commitments. For example, there could be a separate commitment on improving disclosure of budget documents, including elements such as publication of key budget documents, MDA budgets, citizens’ budgets, and audit reports. Another commitment could focus on citizen engagement mechanisms in the budgeting and audit process.
- To further the existing efforts to improve fiscal transparency, the IRM suggests addressing the recommendations from the 2019 OBS findings of the timely release of budget information. Institutionalizing the budget calendar with appropriate timelines and sanctions would be a crucial step for timely disclosure of budget and audit reports.
- To expand opportunities for citizen participation in budget deliberations and audits, the IRM recommends making a dedicated commitment with the direct involvement of the Supreme Audit Institution. Participatory audits would be most beneficial when they are administered by the Supreme Audit Institution and integrated in the formal audit process.
- The newly created Open Treasury portal could be used to publish data on budget allocations and expenditure for the response to the COVID-19 emergency, preferably in machine-readable formats. According to the BudgIT, the level of transparency around spending on the pandemic has been limited and there is urgent need for disclosure of detailed data on expenditure.  To ensure accountability of relief efforts, the government needs to publish data on the revenue sources, including debt or other financial instruments and donor assistance, as well as implications on the budget deficit and expenditure, particularly related to the COVID-19 palliatives and stimulus packages in the 2020 Appropriation Act.
- Concerted technical support by donors is needed to ensure that the potential of this commitment can be realized.
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Implement EITI Standard
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Establish Beneficial Ownership Registry
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Strengthen Asset Recovery Legislation
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Implement National Anti-Corruption Strategy
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Improve Compliance with Freedom of Information Act with Focus on Records Management
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Improved Compliance with Mandatory Publication Provisions Requirement (FOIA)
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Aggregate Citizens' Feedback on Programs
NG0026, 2019, E-Government
Freedom of Association, Assembly, and Expression
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Enhance Participation of the Vulnerable
NG0028, 2019, Capacity Building
Implement New Computer Program in 6 Government Ministries to Improve Service Delivery
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Legal Instrument to Strengthen SERVICOM
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Citizen Participation in Budget Cycle
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NG0002, 2017, Access to Information
Extractive Sector Transparency
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Tax Reporting Standards
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World Bank Doing Business Index
NG0005, 2017, Infrastructure & Transport
Beneficial Ownership Register
NG0006, 2017, Anti-Corruption
Anti-Corruption Informationi Sharing
NG0007, 2017, Anti-Corruption
Asset Recovery Legislation
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Anti-Corruption Activity Coordination
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FOIA Compliance for Annual Reporting
NG0010, 2017, Access to Information
FOIA Compliance for Disclosure
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Permanent Dialogue Mechanism
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Joint Governmnet-Civil Society Legislation Review
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Technology-Based Citizens' Feedback
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