By Ajadi Daniel.
We are one full month into the year with no citizen access to the full details of the 2017 budget. The Lagos state government has failed to upload the 2017 budget in its entirety.
Close to a month after the passage of the budget, the budget still remain esoteric, and the state authorities keep delighting in the fact that they had made known the total cost of the budget in terms of the capital and recurrent expenditure.
When contacted last week on this, the Commissioner for Information and Strategy for the State, Mr Steve Ayorinde replied through a text message that: “I have explained to you that the budget will be uploaded on our website. This will be done as soon as our IT officers finish with the portal that will host it. I do not know when this will be, but it will be soon as they are ready, being a technical thing. The budget estimate as well as its sectoral breakdown have already been made public as you know. This has always been the practice. There will always be access to every aspect of the finances and governance in Lagos State”.
But contrary to what the commissioner said, that has not always been the case. the Lagos state government website only has the 2016 budget in its abridged or shortened form, the full details of that budget was not made public, prior to 2016, the budget of the previous years were not made public on the site, though the years are there, but a click on each year shows a blank or empty space.
This also points to the fact that there is no laid down framework for making the budget public before now, that is probably why it is taking time to upload. It is not a tradition in the state.
One of our reporters was at the ministry of information earlier today to inquire if the 2017 budget has been uploaded or is available for public consumption, he was told that it has been uploaded, but a quick browse on the website revealed that there was no truth in that. He went back to the Director to announcement the development only to discover that what the director was referring to as the budget made public was the budget presentation by the Governor to the state house where he only highlighted few details of the budget. He however lost his control when he was told by the reporter that that was not the full budget, shouting: “What else do you want!”. The Director do not think that it is necessary that people have access to the full details of the budget, perhaps it is not usual that someone come calling at his office demanding that the state’s budget be uploaded or requesting for the budget.
We call on the Lagos state government to make public the full details of the 2017 budget not the abridged or shortened version, people have right to it. Data should be made accessible without difficulty. The earlier the people have access to the budget, the better for good governance and accountability.
It is also important to state categorically that we are not requesting for an abridged version of the budget but the full details.