Executive Director of African Centre for Leadership, Strategy and Development, (Centre LSD) Dr. Otive Igbuzor, had argued that officials of the state government empowered to prepare the state yearly budget had always kept the preparation secret, disallowing members of the public and CSOs from making input.
While some argued in favour of Igbuzor saying the budget is kept secret pending its presentation for defense by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), others held that every aspect of the state budget from preparation to defense is made open for input by the people of the state.
The sharp disagreement which almost turned the essence of the state budget analysis from 2007 to 2014, an event organized by Centre LSD into a war of words by the different interests of the directors was quelled by the intervention of the Niger Delta Regional Director of Centre LSD, Mr. Chuks Erhire.
Mrs. Bridget Anyafulu, Executive Director of International Centre for Women Empowerment and Child Development (ICWECD), argued that government had never hidden any part of the state budget from start to finish as presented by Otive Igbuzor, who was represented by his Regional Director, Erhire.
Mrs. Anyafulu said rather than blame government for certain failures in the state yearly budget, directors of various CSOs should look inward and examine their roles and interest in the day to day administration of the state.
She said “we are all in government. People in government are human beings like us. CSOs have not also done well. You cannot just come out and say something without proof. So many NGOs are in Delta but they do not know what they are doing. The way we look government and conclude that they are stealing money, that is how they are still looking at us.
“As we criticize government, so also they criticize us. It is not about NGOs and CSOs but our interest in the NGOs we are operating. It’s all about making money. If you are invited and no money to give you, you will not be motivated to go.
“The budget you are talking about is accessible. It’s everywhere for everyone to see. Most CSOs’ offices are in their brief cases. They have no project to show. Development issues are not in paperwork but visible for all to see”.
But Okezi Odugala, Executive Director of Eziodu Initiative for Sustainable Environmental Development, Akaeze Boney, of Foundation for Non Violent Social Change and Jude Ojiugo, of Foundation for Human Development Initiative, argued that budget preparation in Delta is always kept secret, not allowing the public’s view before its presentation for defense.
The trio maintained that the business of financial management can no longer be business as usual in the state, asserting that Delta is a shame to Nigeria in terms of financial discipline as it has not made much development in the midst of the huge financial allocation to the state.