The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), says it is supporting Nigerian state governments in preparation for their 2023 budget to ensure a robust outcome.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the support was being done under its Accountability, Transparency and Effectiveness (State2State) project
Mr John Onyeukwu, the Deputy Chief of Party of the USAID State2State project, made this known to NAN on the sideline of a workshop in Abuja on Thursday.
The three-day workshop with the theme: Technical Support for Preparation of 2023-2025 MTEF/FSP for State2State Partner States’’ is focused on Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and the Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP).
Onyeukwu said that the aim was to help states prepare for the 2023 budget, which cycle had begun.
He said with the importance of budgeting to national development, it was important to use MTEF as a tool to properly plan allocation to different sectors of the economy.
According to him, once the MTEF is done with, states will come up with Medium Term Sector Strategy, which looks at all sectors depending on each state government.
“Some states look at between 11 to 14 sectors but for all the states where we work, we will primarily be supporting them to look at the three sectors where we are working.
“These sectors are education, health and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WaSH).
“After that, the budget proper which you and I are always looking forward to will be ready,’’ he said.
Speaking on other activities of the State2State project, the deputy chief of party said the team would be working in seven local governments in each of the six focal states it was partnering with.
According to him, the six states are Gombe, Bauchi, Ebonyi, Sokoto, Akwa Ibom and Adamawa.
Onyeukwu noted that the activities in the local governments would be focused more on service delivery in education, health and WaSH.
“We will provide technical support to enable the local governments function better in their procurement system.
“We will also train them on how to conserve money and then invest where it matters, that is health, education and WaSH,’’ he said.
According to him, the State2State team has begun a service delivery survey in the focal states, to ensure improved governance.
He said that the team was collaborating in that regard with SERVICOM, an initiative of the Federal Government of Nigeria that promotes effective and efficient service delivery.
Onyeukwu said data would be provided at the end of the exercise to show the level of service delivery in the states.
He said that the data would reveal gaps that exist in each state with regard to service delivery, to enable them work toward closing them.
On getting more states to be part of the State2State activity, the deputy chief of party said some states had indicated interest in the project.
“Part of our activities is the consulting firm component, where at some point we may have some states becoming part of the activity beyond the six that we currently have.
“However, the states would have to make some commitments.’’
On overall outcome of the State2State project since its inception in 2022, Onyeukwu said there had been lots of improvement.
“I am very proud that states are getting into it and trying to close the gaps that had existed.
“We always have good reports from the states working with us with regard to the World Bank SIFTAS programme and even when the Federal Government of Nigeria engages them.
“For instance, one of the states we work with is Akwa Ibom. It is the only state government in Africa, except South Africa, that has its budget National Chart of Account Compliance up to department level,’’ he said.
The deputy chief of party, however, lamented the dearth of data in states, noting that states were struggling with keeping and maintaining data.
“We are able to get data from other sources to support the work that we do.
“However, in planning it is affecting states, particularly in getting some of their processes right but the good thing is that they are working on it,’’ he said.
NAN reports that the USAID State2State project is a five year project which commenced in 2020.
The objective of the project is to improve government’s ability to boost responsiveness to citizens’ needs and priorities, plan budget and raise revenues.
It is also focused on improving government and civil society capacity to manage conflicts while overseeing service delivery in the health and education sectors as well as WaSH.