‘Disclosure of Abia’s Budget Expenses Every Quarter Conforms to Inter’l Best Practices’
SSA on Due Process Says Abia in Good Stead to Do Business with World Bank, IMF, Other Devt Partners
The Due Process Office of Abia State has lauded Governor Alex Otti for disclosing the budget expenses of his government on quarterly basis, saying that it was in line with international best practices.
Speaking with journalists in Umuahia on the heels of the controversy swirling around the 3Q budget expenses of Abia, the head of the Due Process Office, Dr Oluebube Chukwu said that the disclosures confers government with creditbility.
The Alex Otti administration which came on board on May 29, 2023 broke away from the past government opacity by publishing the budget expenses every quarter to keep Abians abreast of how state resources are utilised.
But the 3rd Quarter budget expenses has raised a lot of dust as the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) took the governor to the cleaners alleging that he spent a staggering N927 million on meals and refreshments.
Government has vigorously denied “the mischievous misrepresentation and propaganda” by the opposition and clarified that it only spent N223.4 million within the period under review covering all the 74 MDAs.
It also explained that the stated figure covers expenses off all the MDAs for special events, such as retreats, conferences, and related events, adding that N397,520,734.84 was spent on welfare, covering medical bills, rehabilitation and public emergencies.
Notwithstanding the controversy surrounding the disclosed budget expenses, Chukwu, who is the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Due Process, insisted it was “in line with the government’s commitment to transparency, good governance and fiscal discipline”.
According to him, the decision to publish the Q3 budget expenses stems from government’s unwavering commitment to fostering public trust and ensuring that citizens are well-informed about the allocation and utilization of public funds.
“This move reflects a global trend where governments are increasingly recognizing the importance of transparency in building public confidence,” he said.
The Due Process chief stated that the disclosure of financial dealings by governments was highly recommended by international financial institutions and development partners such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.
Chukwu pointed out that “by adhering to these standards, the Abia State Government aims to enhance its credibility on the international stage and foster stronger partnerships with global organizations.
He said: “Providing this level of detail not only enhances accountability but also allows citizens to actively engage in the governance process by understanding how their tax contributions are being utilized for the betterment of the state.
“Moreover, the publication of the Q3 budget expenses serves as a model for other states in Nigeria, setting a precedence for proactive disclosure of financial information”.
Dr Chukwu stressed that embracing international best practices is crucial for attracting foreign investment, as it demonstrates a commitment to fiscal responsibility and sound financial management.
He noted that with a view to ensure accessibility, the Abia government has made available the breakdown of the budget expenses through various channels, including the state government official website and public libraries.
“This accessibility is essential for fostering a culture of civic participation, as it empowers citizens to actively monitor government spending and contribute to the overall development agenda,” Chukwu said.