Saturday, 21 June 2014

Oil Money And You’s Introspective Look At Resource Governance

Oil Money And You’s Introspective Look At Resource Governance

By Bayo Ogunmupe

THIS voluminous book, The Oil Money and You, is a publication of the Niger Delta Budget Monitoring Group (NDEBUMOG). The group is the regional centre for monitoring how budgets of a oil producing states are managed on their behalf. The group was mooted in 2005 as a regional non-governmental organisation, registered with the corporate Affairs Commission. It grew owing to the demand for accountability in the Niger Delta region, in view of the huge funds flowing to the region from the Federal Government. The key beneficiaries of this money inflow are the states and local councils, who are custodians of people’s money.
   Other funds from the internally generated revenues accrue to tiers of government within the Niger Delta. These monies in form of royalties and counterpart funding from the multinational oil companies also needed to be accounted for. Other matters demanding to be accounted for are the social responsibility programmes of multinational corporations, which spend huge sums of money, applied on behalf of the chronically poor people of the region. Indeed, other agencies also accessing interventionist funds for the development of this region include, the ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, Federal Ministry of the Environment, Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Content Development and Monitoring Board, National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency, the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency among others.
  The belief that resource governance must be accounted for and deepened for progress underpins why the group exists. It is also believed that no amount of revenue can transform the Delta without transparency. Moreover, reforms as well as aggressive anti-corruption campaigns and pro-poor fiscal regulations are among the main objectives of this volume. Since inception, this group has made several interventions relating to disseminating budget information, tracking revenues and expenditures, broadening popular participation on fiscal issues and strengthening the capacity of stakeholders towards popular inclusive budgeting at every tier of government.
  The forgoing has been the objective of this publication. This book has been able to help its publishers to realize their objectives. Also, this big book has eight chapters, 381 pages, four pages of list of tables, three pages of list of figures, five pages of list of acronyms and seven pages of references.
  Nigeria’s economy may be growing, but Nigeria isn’t developing. The current rate of growth of our economy is far below what was envisaged in both Vision 2020 and the Transformation Agenda 2011-2015. This truth is hidden from the public by the constant reference by our public officials, not to the projections of the two plans, but to the comparative rates of growth of the economies of arbitrarily selected countries. The official documents embody a projected annual rate of growth of 11.7 per cent for Nigeria. However, we have been growing at the rate of 6 per cent per year. But the Nigerian population is growing at the rate of 4 per cent per year. This means that at that rate Nigeria cannot become one of the 20 largest economies by 2020.
  More importantly, the pattern and rate of growth as well as the structure of our economy cannot lead to a significant reduction in the level of poverty in Nigeria, which now stands at above 60 per cent. Moreover the rate of unemployment is more than 25 per cent, and much higher for the youths.
  But not everyone who should know is fully informed of why Nigeria isn’t developing. Thus any information in that area is very useful. NDEBUMOG has been involved in sponsoring and supporting empirical survey on budgetary processes in the Niger Delta States. This “Deepening Expenditure Line Tracking for states and Local Governments in the Niger Delta” is their latest report. The four states studied and enumerated here are Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta and Rivers. The projects in focus are education, health, and works. This book contains the evaluation of the performance of these tiers of government in the light of Nigeria’s commitment to the UN millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as at the year 2011.
  Therefore, this book is the product of an empirical survey. These findings are factual, concrete and momentous in our march towards an advanced economy. This report clearly identifies, which state performed worse among the Niger Delta States and why. This report also exposes why the poverty rate in the Niger Delta is increasing, while the revenue flow is on the upswing. Therefore this book highlights the gaping chasm between projects budgeted for and projects actually implemented. This book therefore provides us a deep insight into the missing link in the budgetary process in the Niger Delta region.
  This publication is similar to the one published by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The USAID book was a public Expenditure Management Review for the health sector in three Nigerian states of Cross River, Nasarawa and Sokoto. It was titled, Health System 2020 project. The study identified some key problems such as: weak budget execution at the LGA level, weak relationship between resources expended and the condition of the facilities and lack of accurate financial record keeping and reporting.
    That report also found that holding officials accountable was difficult, and leakage of funds was more likely to occur. Therefore, the reports ultimately affirmed that strong processes for tracking budgeting and expenditure provide the foundation for ensuring that priorities are met and that the needed services are delivered.  
   Finally, this report affirmed the necessity of supervision and accountability in the execution of government projects otherwise corruption and inefficiency will ruin such projects.
  The convenor of the project is Geogehill Anthony. He is the executive director and chief operating officer of the Niger Delta Budgetary Monitoring Group’s Regional Accountability Centre in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria. 

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