It is sad that, after earning an estimated over $1 trillion in oil receipt since 1958, per capital income in the country scandalously stands at $300 per year. In spite of this substantial flow of oil money, many communities see no sign of government presence in terms of development projects. The consequences of this have been material scarcity, deepening frustration, epileptic power supply, falling standard of education, the parlous state of the infrastructure, the dying industries and declining economic performance leading to rising unemployment or underemployment. These developments have intensified a sense of hopelessness and mistrust.
While all these problems have many sources and motivations, the preeminent underlying cause is the poor access to information on local and national development policies and budgets. Too often, people lack the power to find out how public resources are spent or verify that the funds are serving the public interest. To meet this challenge, citizens must be equipped to ‘follow the money’, raise their voices, and demand responses and reforms from government officials. If unaddressed, these developments do not abode well for the future of the country.
Accordingly, CIAN as an agent of change, is resourcing citizens to take actions that ensure that the country’s resources—including revenues from oil, gas, and mining, foreign aid dollars, and tax revenues—are spent in ways that alleviate poverty. Also, while CIAN is helping to create the political space needed to carry out this monitoring, our partners are extending a pilot program to monitor states assembly budgets and, are enhancing and building capacity of local civil society organizations, as well as a network of activists working at the local and national levels to monitor development policies, incomes, and expenditures of governments. Our partners across the states of Nigeria, in this regard, are pushing for greater transparency and increased access to national budget information, and for disclosure of payments to the government from attractive industries. They are also working to make information on foreign aid more usable and accessible so that citizens can track where money is going.