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COVID-19 Expenditures: BudgIT Decries States’ Refusal To Publish Breakdown

BudgIT, one of the civil society organizations committed to transparency and accountability in Nigeria’s public finance system, has accused some state governments of failing to give account of their states’ COVID-19 expenditures despite repeated demand by it for such disclosure since last year.

As part of BudgIT’s mandate to promote transparency and accountability in public finance, we are currently leading an #Account4COVID campaign to ensure that all states publish their expenditures on COVID-19 response.

It noted that apart from the states’ allocations for COVID-19 response, both the local and international organisations had donated billions of Naira in cash and kind to support the states’ fight against COVID-19.

The organization stated that this had made it more expedient to monitor all donations and disbursements to ensure that funds are being spent effectively on COVID-19 response.

Recalling its past efforts to make the states account for the expenditures, the CSO stated that in July 2020, it “sent letters to Enugu, Niger, Kano and Ogun states, requesting detailed information on donations received by their state governments. These letters were received and acknowledged; however, no information was made available to the public in this regard.

“Likewise, in December 2020, we wrote again to the Governors, Commissioners and Directors of Budget and Economic Planning in these focus states, including Lagos and Rivers States. These letters were also acknowledged; however, only Lagos and Niger States have responded. The other four states- Enugu, Kano, Ogun, and Rivers – are yet to respond, and they have refused to make public details of their donations and spending”, it added.

Commenting on the affected states’ seeming disregard for accountability in public finance, BudgIT’s Senior Programme Officer, Iyanuoluwa Bolarinwa, during a media chat quipped: “To whom much is given, much is expected. These states owe citizens transparency and accountability as to how much COVID-19 funds were received and spent.”

According to the civil society group, states’ refusal to publish their expenditure makes it impossible for citizens to track, monitor and ask their governments relevant questions regarding their spendings.
It added that for governments that vow to prioritise transparency and accountability, this was not good enough.
BudgIT, therefore, urged Kano, Ogun, Enugu, and Rivers states to prioritise open data and ensure they publish details of all expenses and care measures provided by their state governments for easy access to the people.

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