The claim by the ruling All Progressives Congress Lagos state governorship candidate, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, that Lagos state is the only Nigerian state that publishes its budget on a yearly and quarterly basis is untrue.
Sanwo-Olu made the claim during a debate organised by The Platform, a civil engagement unit of the Covenant Christian Center, on Sunday.
“I think Lagos state is the only one of the states that publish its budget on year on year basis,” Sanwo-Olu said.
The governorship candidate was responding to a question to know if he would grant requests filed under the Freedom of Information Act for public expenditure to be made completely.
The Lagos State government is renowned for ignoring FOI request on its activities from journalists and civil society organisations.
The Freedom of Information Act was signed into law in 2011 by former President Goodluck Jonathan to make public records more easily accessible to the people.
But various state governments had continued to argue that the law requires to be similarly passed by their houses of assemblies.
After a series of checks, The Guardian can report that Sanwo-Olu’s assertion is wrong on two fronts.
First, Lagos State only publishes summaries of its budget on the website. These summaries do not provide details of government spending plans. It is the opaque nature of these documents that have prompted civic tech organisation BudgIT to file a Freedom of Information request on the state to disclose the details of its spending on education between 2015 and 2018.
BudgIT sent another FOI request asking for the “details of the Ikeja Bus Terminal and details of the contracts awarded by the Lagos State Government between May 2015 to May 2018,” to Lagos State commissioner for works and infrastructure Ade Akinsanya.
But the state turned down those requests in spite of a court of Appeal ruling on March 27, 2018, that the FOI Act is applicable to all states in the country.
In fact, the state is notorious for not honouring FOI Act, especially if it has to do with opening up its books.
Second, the claim by Sanwo-Olu that only Lagos State publishes its budget is also untrue. Kaduna State, at least, since Nasri El-Rufai became the governor has been publishing its annual budget. In fact, the state has a dedicated website for that purpose.
Unlike sparse information that Lagos State provides in its publications, Kaduna State offers more details on its recurrent and capital expenditures.