Nige ’Delta group laments exclusion of citizens from budget processes
The Niger Delta Budget Monitoring Group (NDEBUMOG) has lamented the exclusion of citizens and civil society organisations (CSOs) from participating in budget processes in spite of constitutional provisions for their inclusion.
It noted that inputs and needs of communities were hardly captured in budgets, stressing that Federal and state governments were systematically closing the civic space, thereby, making it difficult and risky for citizens to demand accountability, good governance and respect for human rights.
It stated this in a communiqué issued after a two-day advocacy roundtable on civic inclusion, budget monitoring, transparency, accountability, gender inclusion and alliance building organised by NDEBUMOG in collaboration with OXFAM in Akwa Ibom State.
Members of the Communiqué Drafting Committee, Ebere Chikezie, Stiv Obodoekwe, Adeyemi Folake Titilayo and Akpos Sarakiri, who endorsed the statement, also lamented that envelopes were neither attached to some development projects, nor funds released for their implementation, thereby, making execution impossible, adding that this had contributed to poor budget performance.
They noted that lack of effective monitoring of projects had often led to abandonment of projects, adding that gender discrimination in governance remained a major hindrance to sustainable development and was prevalent in the country.
“Principles of budget discipline are lacking, which manifests in poor budgetary performance. Budget as an Appropriation Act and public document should be accessible, as obtaining budget information in most councils, has been difficult.
“Inequality gaps are widening, with the poor getting poorer, while the rich are getting richer. Some CSOs and communities lack the skills to participate in budgeting processes and monitoring.
“CSOs should apply non-violent approach in engagement with the government for inclusive democracy. Nigeria government has always budgeted for the deficit, although this may appear inevitable in the present situation, the government need to redesign innovative ways of financing its budgets to avoid perpetual budget deficits,” the group stated.
It, therefore, urged stakeholders at the community and council levels, CSOs and agencies with monitoring and evaluation responsibilities to wake up to their duties.
The group also added that fiscal entities should begin to synergise with CSOs and communities for inclusive and effective monitoring of projects implementation.
It also asked the Federal Government to find innovative ways of financing its budgets to avoid over-dependence on loans and other means that mount unnecessary pressure on impoverished Nigerians.
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