Governance: Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Lagos Top BudgIT’s 2019 Sustainability Index

Governance: Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Lagos Top BudgIT’s 2019 Sustainability Index [DETAILS]

By Pius Godsday | Politics Reporter on October 23, 2019
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Akwa Ibom State's Governor Udom Emmanuel
Akwa Ibom State's Governor Udom Emmanuel

BudgIT has presented its 2019 Fiscal Sustainability Ranking findings detailing the fiscal condition of states in Nigeria. In this report, Akwa Ibom, Rivers and Lagos states topped the ranking.

This is according to the State of States Report, launched today in Abuja, where BudgIT draws the curtain to unveil the realities of fiscal sustainability of the thirty-six Nigerian states plus an anatomy of their human capital investment, at the 2019 State of States and Investing in People event.

In an e-mailed statement to The Trent on Wednesday, October 23, 2019, the organisation’s communications Associate, Shakir Akorede, BudgIT has issued annual editions of the State of States Report since 2015, dissecting both financial and economic trends at subnational level in Nigeria.

“The 2019 report came with a tweak in methodology by using states’ actual expenditure as at 2017, reducing the probability of unreliability, as posed by inflated budgeted figures especially expenditure items. For this year’s report, BudgIT worked with all thirty-six state governments on accessing their audited reports.

“This was aimed at making our fiscal index more governed by reality than by budget estimates.” the statement reads.

“In the last two editions of the report, we paid attention to the export potentials of states and also competitiveness of states.

“However, in this edition, we have broadened the scope by reviewing the current state of health in each state, using broad metrics on infant mortality rate, maternal mortality rate, access to skilled workers and doctor density ratio among states. In addition, we explored testimonies from citizens on the current state of health in the respective communities, bringing to the fore challenges ranging from lack of access to skilled workers, poor quality of personnel and lack of access to drugs.

“Our interest is to further dive into the stories of citizens on the current state of healthcare in the country and how resource allocations are not enough to meet the heightening challenges.

“While we would have liked to draw on 2018 audited statements for the report, less than 15 states have published their audited statement, making it largely unrepresentative for the states.

“However, we note that the issues of weak economies of states persists as they remain tied to informal trade and skeletal industrial output with exception of Lagos, Rivers, Delta, Ogun and Akwa Ibom states.

“Our report reveals that most Nigerian states have still not figured out how to harness their collective strengths, establish single focus investment products, thereby becoming fulcrum of productivity and not just FAAC collection centers,” BudgIT Principal Lead, Gabriel Okeowo, told journalists.

“While Nigerian states are not out of the woods due to the sub-optimal federalism system that Nigeria practices, the recent one-off payments such as the Paris Club Exchange Rate Refund, refund for federal road projects to states, budget support fund and loans by the Central Bank of Nigeria have helped many states with fiscal challenge to mildly recover. It is interesting to see states like Cross River, with a bogus budget of N1.04tn, spend less than N93bn on an annual basis which brings them up the rank as well as Imo with its recurrent spending of N43bn.

“Lagos State leads the fiscal sustainability index, followed by Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Kano States. Access to audited statements brought out some facts on the true state of recurrent expenditure in focus states.

“We noticed states such as Delta running huge recurrent expenditure reaching N200bn while Bayelsa, despite its tiny size and population, has a towering recurrent bill as high as N137bn, compared with Ebonyi (N30bn), Sokoto (N38bn), Jigawa (N43bn), Yobe (N35bn), etc.

“It is a recurring theme to see states in South-South Nigeria running high recurrent bills, mainly driven by the high revenues earned due to the 13% derivation.

“We believe that our work in terms of transparency must henceforth explore the socio-economic dimensions of the Nigerian society.

“Our belief is that Nigeria needs to create an incentive for states to expand growth and earning potential, thereby activating resources needed to improve the state of health, education and access to opportunity. BudgIT believes that Nigeria possesses the required resources to change the dynamics of its population, but this will require strong leadership in a dynamic and competitive world,” the statement ended.

According to its website, “BudgIT is a civic organization that applies technology to intersect citizen engagement with institutional improvement, to facilitate societal change. A pioneer in the field of social advocacy melded with technology, BudgIT uses an array of tech tools to simplify the budget and matters of public spending for citizens, with the primary aim of raising the standard of transparency and accountability in government.”

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