Governance in Nigeria has been plagued by a myriad of problems over the years. Chief amongst them are misappropriation, lack of accountability and overall corruption that has plagued the entire system. As of January 2021, Nigeria ranks 149 out of 183 countries in the Corruption Perception Index (CPI).
Apart from the lack of strong legislation to punish offenders and the will to enforce those laws, one major reason why corruption has thrived is due to a lack of monitoring and demand for accountability by the citizens. This has led to increasing calls for Nigerians to become more active in their affairs especially in holding leaders accountable. But that won’t be possible if they can’t monitor government spending.
A Nigerian civic-technology company, BudgIT, has launched an online platform that would enable Nigerians to monitor the federal government’s treasury and see how the government is spending its money in real-time.
According to BudgIT, the platform called govspend.ng is a comprehensive portal that would grant access to visualised and simplified data from the government’s Open Treasury Portal. It is targeted at citizens as well as Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and members of the media.
The platform draws from the FG’s Open Treasury Portal (OTP) launched in 2019 by the Buhari administration to increase transparency and accountability in government spending. The OTP collates spending data from ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).
While the OTP gives the public access to these data on government spending, govspend.ng simplifies and presents these treasury reports in visualised formats. This, the organisation hopes would help citizens to easily access, monitor and understand FG’s real-time expenditure.
The online platform would also point out anomalies in these spendings as discovered by the BudgIt team. These anomalies include payments made to multiple beneficiaries, payments without descriptions, payments made to personal accounts, etc.
Speaking about the launch, CEO of BudgIT, Gabriel Okeowo, while noting that FG has done a great job in ensuring that the government’s daily spendings are in the public domain, data on the portal are mostly in non-machine readable formats. They are also not downloadable.
“We developed the govspend.ng portal to rectify this issue,” he said.
“Citizens can access information on companies that have been awarded public contracts and amounts paid by MDAs to such companies. At the same time, CSOs can build conversations around govt spending based on simplified data uploaded on the website.Gabriel Okeowo
He further called on the media to leverage information on the platform for advocacy and investigative journalism.
The development is certainly a lofty one as it would grant people access to see how their money is being expended. One can only hope that Nigerians are able to leverage on the platform to insist on accountability and hopefully reduce misappropriation and corruption in high places.
FG’s Open Treasury Portal only collates spendings above N5 million by MDAs and above N10 million by the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation.
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