The Civil Resource Development and Documentation Centre, CIRDDOC, Wednesday, declared Jigawa State top among 36 States on Budget Transparency Index 2020 ranking.

This was made known by the Lead Researcher, CIRDDOC, Engr Ralph Ndigwe, why presenting ‘2020 Nigerian States Budget Transparency Survey’, which was funded by the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office, FCDO, formerly known as DFID/UkAid, and implemented by CIRDDOC.

Speaking on the Survey, Ndigwe said generally there was impressive performance by most of the states in their score along various perimeters

He said: “On public availability of key budget documents, an overwhelming majority of States improved their 2020 scores on the State Budget Document Availability Index.

“The average score in 2020 increased to 49, 17 points higher than the 2018 average of 32. While Jigawa State continued to be at the top of the sub-index, Ondo and Kano States ranked second and third with scores of 86 and 80 respectively.

“Akwa Ibom, Ekiti, Ebonyi, Kaduna, Kogi and Ogun States all scored above 60 and provide a signIficant amount of budget information.

“The worst performers were Zamfara and Oyo States with scores of 21 and 5, respectively. Oyo State in particular made no budget documents available online; after careful search, none of the links on the State’s website for their budget documents worked.

“Nine States had lower score than in 2018, of these nine, five saw their scores drop less than 10 points. This is due to these states not publishing documents online that either were previously made available on request (namely Lagos and Niger States) or previously posted on their site (Delta State).

“On public participation in the budget process, while there were significant improvements in budget transparency in 2020, improvements in public participation in the budget process in Nigerian States were not as extensive. The average score of 2020 State Public Participation Index increased to 26, nine points higher than the 2018 average of 17.

“The majority of these improvements in opportunities for public participation occurred during the formulation stage of the budget process; spaces during budget execution and audit remained minimal, at best.

“Jigawa State continued to be at the top of the participation sub-index, though their score decreased by 15 points. Kaduna and Ogun ranked second and third with scores of 56 and 51 respectively. Ogun State instituted new practices, for example inclusive town-halls in each senatorial zone to help determine and document local budget priorities.”

According to the report several states also used town-halls for the first time, following recommendations of the 2018 report. 16 States scored between 20 and 60 compared to only 10 States in the 2018 edition. Less than half of states scored below 20, meaning they provide very limited spaces for budget process. In 2020, only two states, Adamawa and Zamfara, had no mechanisms for the public to be involved during the budget process, compared to nine States in 2018.

“Public access to procurement information; the procurement in Nigerian states continued to be more robust and open than in previous years. These changes were welcome since prudent public contracting is crucial to ensuring funds are spent efficiently and effectively to combat health and economic effects of COVID-19. The average score of the 2020 State Procurement Process Index increased to 40, nine points higher than the 2018 average of 31”, the report indicated.

The report further showed that the 2020 data for sub-index indicated that all States except Enugu have a legal framework guiding the procurement process. 32 States have a legal procurement process. 32 States have a formal public procurement law, nine states more than in 2018. While all States were found to have some form of public bureau to guide the procurement process, 32 States have a formal form of bureau of public procurement, a significant increase from 21 States in 2018. 17 States, compared to five in 2018, have a public procurement council, and 11 of those States have private sector or civil society as council members. 15 States have open and competitive tender processes. 26 States published procurement decisions, mostly online and seven States published decisions on these awards.

However, the report made some recommendations, which States should develop plans to answer how transparency, accountability, and participation can help them achieve their macro-fiscal objectives and developmental priorities beyond States Fiscal Transparency, Accountability, and Sustainability, SFTAS; While States Fiscal Transparency, Accountability, and Sustainability, SFTAS, has developed objectives and outcomes, discussions still need to be held on the volatility of the online publication of budget documents and the continuity and sustainability of improvements in budget transparency over time; States should identify concrete links between each transparency, accountability, and participation and the macro-fiscal objectives identified in their State Development Plans