BudgIT is a Nigerian civil society organisation that applies technology to intersect citizen engagement with institutional improvement to facilitate societal change. BudgIT’s mission is to use creative technology to simplify public information, stimulating a community of active citizens and enabling their rights to demand accountability, institutional reforms, efficient service delivery and equitable society. It aims to create a community of active citizens that relentlessly make effective use of public information to demand accountability, geared for institutional improvement, efficient service delivery, and an equitable society.
BudgIT started as an idea incubated by the Co-Creation Hub in February 2011 in Lagos, and was launched on 13 September 2011 with a website that gives Nigerians a clear understanding of public finance documents such as the budget.
With offices in Lagos and Abuja in Nigeria, and Freetown in Sierra Leone, as well as another one opening soon in Ghana, BudgIT is today recognized as a pioneer in the field of social advocacy combined with technology.
BudgIT uses an array of tech tools to simplify budget information and matters of public spending for citizens, with the primary aim of raising the standard of transparency and accountability in government. It works in partnership with civil society organisations, public institutions, and the media, mainly in the areas of fiscal analyses, civic technology, and data representation. BudgIT’s methodology deploys refined data mining skill sets to creatively represent data and empower citizens to use the resulting information in demanding improved service delivery.
Beyond budget access, BudgIT functions on the premise that budgets must work for the people. Most emblematic is its project-tracking tool, Tracka, which was introduced in 2014. Tracka is now functional in 20 States, and allows Nigerians to post pictures of developmental projects in their communities with BudgIT’s project officers supporting citizens offline to communicate with their elected representatives, and demand completion of government projects in their neighbourhoods.
Simultaneously, BudgIT continues to influence the national agenda on public spending with its policy papers covering government finance, sub-national viability, open government schemes, and anti-corruption and transparency initiatives. As a member of Civicus and Open Alliance, BudgIT is also leading the charge to ensure Nigeria’s membership of the global Open Government Partnership (OGP).
BudgIT has achieved much success and impact in a short period of time.
It has already reached more than 4.8 million Nigerians via digital and physical spaces, leading online and offline conversations on government finance and public sector efficiency. With more than 3 000 unique data requests monthly from private, corporate and development entities and individuals, BudgIT is now widely regarded as a trusted hub for public finance data in Nigeria.
With Tracka, it has extended its reach to citizens via town hall meetings in various constituencies, educating and sensitising them to demand transparent and accountable implementation of capital projects. So far, over 8 000 letters have been written to legislators, constituency representatives, and ministries charged with implementing projects.
Offline, and on the ground, BudgIT collaborates across the public-private sectors to deliver programmes that strengthen the capacity of its peers and willing government institutions. Relying on donor funding, it has worked with 23 civil society organisations to revamp their digital outlook, policy analyses and report presentation formats, and is currently experimenting with Nigeria’s first Data Journalism platform.
BudgIT’s past and recent engagements in the public sector include partnerships with the National Assembly, the National Assembly Budget and Research Office, the Budget Office of the Federation, and the Kaduna State Government. On request, BudgIT has also provided support to the Nigerian Extractives Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), the Ministry of Budget and Planning, and the Lagos State Ministry of Budget and Planning.
BudgIT is also championing Commitment 1 in Nigeria’s OGP National Action Plan – “To ensure more effective citizens’ participation across the entire budget cycle”. The engagement with the Budget and National Planning Ministry has yielded results with the introduction of a Citizen’s Guide which aims to explain in a simple, direct way the principles and processes that are involved in preparing the national budget.
Despite its success, BudgIT is also confronted with various challenges in the execution of its work. One of the major problems is opacity – the Nigerian government is not proactive enough in disclosing information to citizens. Another challenge is the domestication of the FOI Act at State levels, with states not responding to FOI requests as they claim it is a Federal Government responsibility. Recently, there was a court ruling mandating states to comply with FOI requests, and hopefully, there will be more cooperation in the future.
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