An advocacy group, BudgIT, on Thursday, said that only eight of the 36 states of the federation made their annual budgets transparent.
The Head of Research in BudgIT, Mr Atiku Samuel, said in Lagos that only Lagos, Gombe, Bauchi, Ekiti and Kaduna, Edo, Kwara and Kogi states ran transparent budgets.
Samuel said that it was wrong for states not to run transparent budgets, noting that not publishing budgets was contrary to the Federal Government’s anti-corruption drive.
“Publishing budget is part of the 22 conditions given to state governments to access the bailout package.
“A requirement given by the Federal Government for accessing the package is that states should publish their budget documents and budget implementation reports online.
“Lack of publishing budgets by state governments should be frowned at because they leave the citizens with a deficit of information,’’ he said.
The official added that the lack of information was unhelpful to the citizenry and constituted a challenge to BudgIT which, he said, needed the budgets for planning.
According to Samuel, published annual budgets should contain adequate information to enable citizens to understand them.
Samuel told NAN that BudgIT which focuses on creating demand for government information, driving accountability and transparency, needed to draw attention to the inadequacy.
He also claimed that there was disconnect between what governments through their Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) presented as budgets and what citizens actually wanted.
The official attributed this to lack of participatory budgeting.
He said that the citizens were not being involved in budget formulation process, adding that there was also little feedback from them.
“The beauty of democracy is meeting the needs of people.
“Having researched on budgets from 2009 till date, we found that people are usually unaware of what their elected representatives are doing.
“In cases where the citizens are aware of the projects going on in their constituencies, they tell you that these projects differ from their actual need,’’ Samuel said.
He said, however, that the organistion had introduced measures to solve the problems.
“We have introduced an app called Tracka to take the budget to communities.
“We know citizens have very little time to breakdown and understand the figures in the budgets. So, we simplify these information, make them appealing and depict them in an easy-to- understand format.
“This app tracks budgets and disaggregates the information. We make the people aware of projects that are supposed to happen in their communities.
“Since introduction of this app, we have had a lot of success stories. We are seeing constituency projects springing up and we amplify them, enlighten the citizenry about them and ensure they demand accountability for these projects,’’ he said. (NAN)