Nigerian Budget-PMB

ActionAid holds firmly to the necessity for public affairs to be made open and fully transparent. It is only when information is laid bare that stakeholders and the generality of citizens are able to make informed opinions and offer suggestions for improvement in the management of the resources.


ActionAid has maintained its tradition of analysing the budget proposals of the Nigerian Federal Government and submitting its findings to appropriate authorities for necessary actions. We are pained to observe, and we submit, that despite the efforts of organisations like ours over the past 10 or more years on budget advocacy in Nigeria, little seems to have changed in the manner in which budgets are proposed in Nigeria.

It seems that each year, the country is faced with the same narrative of frivolous, unclear and bloated proposals. We also believe that not much is being done on budget monitoring, ensuring the release of funds to back up budget proposals and the review of previous years’ performances before a new year’s budget is considered and passed.

ActionAid believes that there are fundamental and structural flaws in the budget and budgeting process; and these must be corrected if we are to make any headway towards development. We are therefore pleased to make references to some of those and provide solutions and alternatives.

In terms of the structures and processes of the budget, ActionAid would like to make the following submissions.

On priority setting, we submit that the government must necessarily get back to developing the Medium Term Sector Strategy. After then, each ministry, department and agency (MDA) must set up processes for identifying its priorities and the goals it plans to achieve within the year. It is only after this that each MDA could propose budgetary spending meant to actualise those goals. We must quickly add here the need for the involvement of appropriate stakeholders (including experts and civil society groups) in each sector in such planning process.

ActionAid believes that the current budgeting template needs to be changed or at least refined to ensure that budget heads are only populated by government units, as well as ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) whose mandates and operations necessarily require spending on such budgetary heads.


We call on the government to set up or strengthen the price intelligence and monitoring units within the Budget Office of the Federation (Ministry of Budget and National Planning) to have costs of several items in place, based on price intelligence and monitoring. This would ensure the harmonisation of costs and prices indicated for each item in the budget, no matter where the item is situated in the budget. It is worrisome that the cost for identical items and specifications change from agency to agency, thereby raising questions as to the fidelity of the budget figures. If proper costing and price intelligence are achieved, the Budget Office would have the responsibility of cleaning up and harmonising the figures from the budget estimates from the various MDAs when compiling the budget to be presented for consideration.

ActionAid believes that the current budgeting template needs to be changed or at least refined to ensure that budget heads are only populated by government units, as well as ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) whose mandates and operations necessarily require spending on such budgetary heads.

We propose that each unit should be allowed to come up with what it needs on the basis of the nature of its operations and the outcome of its needs assessment process, and those should be the only areas it would be allowed to budget for. The template should be such that any budget head not relevant to an MDA or unit within the MDA should be locked and made inaccessible and inadmissible for insertion of figures for such MDA or unit.

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It seems that currently the budget templates are populated by government offices with little concern for what they need or what could help them achieve their goals. Across the budget, most MDAs insert figures for ‘uniforms and other clothing’, ‘printing of non-security documents’, ‘printing of security documents’, ‘cleaning and fumigation’, ‘financial consulting’, ‘legal consulting’, ‘honorarium and sitting allowance’, ‘publicity and advertisements’ and the notoriously ubiquitous ‘welfare package’.

There is no over-stressing the fact that the purpose of government is to deliver on the welfare and security of the citizens. It follows therefore that given the centrality of the budget to the actualisation of that purpose, the citizens must be involved in the process.


We are particularly concerned with what amounts to ‘welfare package’ in our budgets, where there are no known criteria for how the money is distributed in clear and transparent ways. We should be able to link such distribution of the welfare packages to the mandates of each office disbursing the funds. Where that is lacking, the welfare package simply becomes avenue for corruption by the chief executives. It could also lead to undue friction within offices where access to the funds becomes a tool for patronage.

There is no over-stressing the fact that the purpose of government is to deliver on the welfare and security of the citizens. It follows therefore that given the centrality of the budget to the actualisation of that purpose, the citizens must be involved in the process. This should be promoted from the point of identification of needs, conceptualisation of responses to such needs, budget formulation, consideration, defence, passage, implementation, monitoring and review. This again takes us back to the point we made about on the need for effective MTSS process.

ActionAid holds firmly to the necessity for public affairs to be made open and fully transparent. It is only when information is laid bare that stakeholders and the generality of citizens are able to make informed opinions and offer suggestions for improvement in the management of the resources. While we are happy that the budget proposals are often in the public realm, we are constrained to ask why this transparency does not cut across all facets. It is on this score that ActionAid urges the National Assembly to fulfil its long-standing promise to make the details of its budget proposals open.

We believe that if the above areas are focused on by the budgeting authorities, the country’s budget would better address the needs of citizens.

Ojobo Atuluku is Country Director, ActionAid Nigeria. Twitter: @ojoboa

This the text of a presentation made to the National Assembly.