Kogi State has again won the fiscal transparency and accountability award in a survey conducted across the States in North Central Nigeria.
The 2022 first position award was presented to the State on Tuesday in Lokoja, the capital city during the launch of the 2022 North Central State Budget Transparency Survey Report carried out by the Social Economic Research and Development Centre (SERDEC).
The National Coordinator, State and National Budget Transparency Survey for the agency, Tijani Abdulkareem, who presented the report and the award, said the objective of the budget Transparency and Accountability Program was to promote focus and attention of Nigerian States towards the improvement of their budget performance in providing good governance to the people.
“Good governance starts from budgeting. This report and award are aimed at strengthening fiscal transparency to help build trust in government, facilitate accountability in public resource management and ensure sustainability in the participating states,” he said.
He added: “It is evident from the 2022 SNBTS on the public availability of budget documents and transparency that there are positive changes. Most of the North Central states now publish their budget documents in 2022 compared to 2020.
“Nevertheless, in terms of state by state performance, none of the states provided extensive budget information to the public in 2022. Only Kogi State can be said to be significantly transparent and provide adequate amount of budget information to the public, as they score more than 60 per cent.”
Tijani explained that the reports were collated across the six states of the North Central zone between 2021 and 2022, adding that the states were judged based on parameters such as Public participation, availability of budget, oversight functions of the state legislators and level of transparency of the procurement process.
He noted, “The survey was set up as a model to improve budget transparency amongst North Central states towards a better fiscal outcome.
“As in previous surveys, the SNBTS 2022 survey report employed a questionnaire approach like the International Budget Partnership, and Open Budget Survey questionnaires, which evaluate the availability of budget information (Transparency); Civic engagement opportunities in the budget process and methods; the strength of the legislature as well as the level of transparency of the North Central states’ procurement process.”
The report, however, said the states’ legislators failed in their oversight functions.
“On Civic participation in the budget process, the 2022 survey reveals clear evidence of a poor level of engagement or interaction between the Legislature and the public in terms of the depth of scope of the public hearings,” the report said.
“Consequently, on the issues of Audit, the 2022 survey reveals that not much effort was made by the states’ Auditors General to involve the public in the Audit phases of the budget process,” it added.
The State Commissioner for Finance, Budget and Planning, Asiru Idris, said the award underscored the premium the state governor, Yahaya Bello, placed on providing good governance.
Asiru said: “The success of the state in the areas of fiscal transparency and accountability can be linked to self-discipline, as well as the institution of a transparent and accountable governance system by Governor Yahaya Bello from the inception of his administration.
“Kogi State is blessed with a Governor who provides leadership from all fronts, a professional to the core that has surrounded himself only with persons that have the capacity to deliver.
“The Governor believes that governance is about the people and whatever you do must be open and transparent to the people.
“The philosophy of the Governor of the state is making every single kobo available work for the entity of the State, hence he has instituted self-discipline, as well as a transparent and accountable governance system from day one of his administration.”
According to the report, this is the second time in a row that Kogi State will top the chart in fiscal transparency and accountability in the North Central, having won the award in 2021.