The Independent Commission for Corrupt Practices and Other Related Crimes (ICPC) urged Nigerian citizens to actively participate in monitoring the budget to curb corruption in the country.
State Commissioner, ICPC, Akwa Ibom State, Shola Shodipo in Uyo said on Tuesday during a 2-day training seminar on the use of the Budget Data and Freedom of Information Act to combat corruption for civil society organizations and representatives of the communities.
Shodipo said that budget monitoring is one of the tools that could be used to fight corruption in the country and stressed that this would control the abuse of public funds.
He said that without budget monitoring, the financial resources approved for specific projects would be diverted and would not reach end users.
He added that although budget monitoring “is a constitutional role for legislators in the National Assembly and in the States, citizens should not leave it alone for them”.
According to him, great corruption was a major obstacle for the legislator in carrying out the burdensome task of following the budget through its supervisory function.
“The people must accept the challenge of putting their eyes in budgetary matters. They stand to gain or lose depending on the steps they take.
“They may be lackadaisical, in which case, billions would be budgeted yearly and there won’t be value for the money which would amount to losses for them.
“They can show enough concern with a view to ensuring that budgets produce value for money which is gain to society,” Shodipo said.
Shodipo added that citizens participation in budget tracking would help translate budget intentions to reality.
The ICPC commissioner in the state said that grand corruption had impacted negatively on the social welfare projects which have direct bearing to the lives of ordinary people.
Earlier in his remarks, the Akwa Ibom Director, National Orientation Agency, Mr Enoh Uyoh, said that the sensitisation workshop was to inform community representatives to be firm, without compromise when projects were brought to their communities.
Uyoh said that institutional corruption has been the reason for decayed infrastructure in the country because money budgeted for projects were diverted to private pockets.
He said that citizens must be willing to take active part in governance and expose corrupt public officials known to them.
“Governance is about everybody, do not say I am not in government, because you need good roads, functional health centres and good schools for our children,” he said.
In his opening remarks, Mr Tijah Bolton-Akpan, Head of Programme of Policy Alert said that community representatives must be aware of the Freedom of Information Act so that they could ask questions about projects sited in their communities.