Over the years, Nigeria’s leadership has been beset by too many challenges. Misallocation, a lack of transparency, and general corruption have afflicted the overall structure. Nigeria is ranked 149th out of 183 nations in the Corruption Perception Index (CIP) as of January 2021.
Other than a dearth of powerful regulations to penalize criminals and the desire to execute such policies, one key factor why corruption is flourishing is a lack of public scrutiny and call for transparency. As a result, there has been an increase in demands for Nigerians to become more involved in their affairs, particularly in holding officials accountable. But they won’t be able to do so if they can’t supervise how the government spends the funds.
BudgIT, a Nigerian civic-technology firm, has developed an internet-based portal that will allow Nigerians to track the federal government’s finances and observe how the government funds are spent in real-time. Per BudgIT, the govspend.ng platform is a sophisticated site that will allow users to access visualized and summarised statistics from the government’s Open Treasury Portal. It is designed for individuals living in the country, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), and representatives of the press. The website is modelled on the Federal Government’s Open Treasury Portal (OTP), which was introduced by the Buhari administration in 2019 to enhance openness and accountability in government expenditure. The OTP compiles expenditure information from Ministries, departments, and agencies – also known as MDAs.
While the OTP provides public access to government expenditure statistics, govspend.ng summarizes and accurately simulates this financial information. The organization thinks that this would make it easier for individuals to access, evaluate, and comprehend FG’s real-time spending.
The web portal would also highlight any discrepancies in these expenditures found by the BudgIt team. Discrepancies comprise transactions to numerous recipients, transfers with no descriptions, transfers of funds to private accounts, and so forth. Addressing the launch, Gabriel Okeowo, Chief operating officer of BudgIT, noted that although the Federal Government has done a fantastic job in guaranteeing that the government’s everyday expenditures are in the public eye. The majority of information on the website is in non-machine readable forms. They cannot also be downloaded.
“We created the govspend.ng site to overcome this drawback,” he explained.
“The country’s citizens can get data on firms that have been granted government contracts as well as the sums received by such companies from MDAs. Simultaneously, CSOs may develop dialogues about government expenditures based on overly simplistic data uploaded to the platform.”He also urged the media to use the system’s content for engagement and investigative reporting.
The initiative is ambitious, since it would allow citizens to know how their money is being spent. One can only wish that Nigerians would be able to use the opportunity to demand transparency and, presumably, minimize theft and corruption at the highest levels. The Federal Government’s Open Treasury Portal only gathers expenditures of N5 million or more by Ministries and departments and N10 million or more by the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation.