by Ajadi Daniel
Kaduna state is one of the few states, if not the only state, that give credence to open governance and unprecedented level of accountability at least given the fact that these words are new to us in Nigeria. Ordinarily they are not meant to be anything new, government is not supposed to be praised for being accountable and transparent to the people, it is their duty to be open to those that they represent. But in Nigeria it is not a tradition, and when there is an anomaly, it calls for thorough examination. Such is the case of Kaduna state.
The state has a tradition of accountability and transparency, making it stand out; they have their budget in the open. The interesting thing is that they are not even told to do so before they display the details of their administration. You don’t need to write an FOI letter to demand the details of some of Kaduna’s administrative document. The question is this is only possible in Kaduna and not in every other state.
States in Nigeria- except Kaduna- pay lip service to the issue of accountability and transparency. Lagos for example is notorious for secrecy. The full details of her budget are never released to the public, no matter the number of FOI request forwarded to them; the same goes for Ogun and Oyo states. These two states do not even release a summary of their budget.
A budget is a 12 month fiscal document, but in Nigeria, it is a clumsy depiction of the incongruence and inefficiency of our administrative structure. Federal government budgets are never passed until a few months into the new year. In some cases, it is passed when the country is half way into the new year. There is nothing bad in having the budget for the next year submitted early October.
The argument again is that what is happening in Kaduna is not institutional but a question of the personality in charge of the administration. So why are we not having such personalities, or why are those in charge in all these other states not seeing matters of governance the way it is being seen in Kaduna? Why have they not come to the understanding that it does not in the long run hurt the government if they have a tradition of open governance where citizens are privy to every details of government. Why is the basic issue of making public the budget a challenge for most of the governors in Nigeria? Why is it difficult to pass the budget in record time before the commencement of the new fiscal year, is the Kaduna state assembly made of up of super humans.
The fact is that it is possible in Kaduna means it is possible anywhere, all we need is a tradition of excellence and hard-work infused into our administrative system. A vision driven government that knows what it wants and how to go about it. That is exactly what we lack in virtually all the states in Nigeria, including our jewel, Lagos, a state that blackmails citizens with projects but shudders to make public the details of her spending, project like the Lagos light rail are shrouded in secrecy with financial details hidden like a cult document.
We need individuals that will understand that democracy is an ongoing conversation between the governed and the government, it is a self regulatory system that needs to be allowed to work, it can only be perfect when the two parties involved are at par in terms of information and engagement. Government will not collapse if the budget is passed before the new year, the administrative structure will not fail if people are privy to the details of the functioning of their government, it only make them better citizens who are armed with information to make well informed choices.