The Interim Administrator of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Mr. Efiong Akwa, says that change and periodic review of processes are necessary for any developmental agency that wishes to make progress.
The NDDC Chief Executive Officer stated this at a two-day Strategic Capacity Building workshop/Retreat for directors of the Commission at Ibom Icon Hotels and Golf Resort in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.
He said that the workshop, which focused on Effective Budget Preparation, Implementation and Monitoring Strategies, was meant to help the NDDC to fine tune its budget processes and position the Commission to begin to do things differently.
Akwa underlined the need for NDDC to effect some changes in its processes from time to time, pointing out that the Niger Delta Regional Development Master, which expired last year would soon be reviewed to give a new direction and focus for the Commission.
The NDDC boss said that one of the areas where the Commission was about to effect changes was in it foreign post graduate scholarship programme, noting that in the light of the prevailing circumstances in a world struggling to survive the Corona virus, COVID-19 pandemic, it was necessary to redirect attention to Nigerian universities.
He remarked: “In the past, we used to sponsor students on foreign scholarships for post graduate studies. In the light of current events, it has become necessary for us to review this plan and use our universities in the Niger Delta region.
In his presentation, an expert in budget and public finance management, Dr Greg Ezeilo, anchored his paper on the topic: “Fiscal Transparency, Parliamentary Oversight and Budget Monitoring and Tracking.”
He underlined the important of meeting stakeholders and having an effective handshake with them because, according to him, “the bulk of the NDDC expenditure lies with them.”
Ezeilo said: “Fiscal transparency requires documentation and openness to the public. As such, data should be reliable and the publication of the budget plans and outcomes should be done from the outset.
“There should be open contracting largely to support public disclosure and accountability for tax payers’ moneys.”
He identified the four pillars of fiscal transparency as clarity of roles and responsibility; open budget process; public availability of information and assurance of integrity, stating that:
“Promoting transparency involves rigorous engagement of the public in the budget tracking process.”
Ezeilo said that government must commit itself to ensuring that fiscal transparency was not in doubt by ensuring that legal frameworks and institutional capacities were strengthened.
Above all, he said, government must eliminate corruption and enhance moral integrity.
Earlier in his own presentation, a resource person from the National Assembly, Mr Gideon Jock, said that the budgeting process in Nigeria was a monumental task laden with challenges but noted that with all hands on deck, “the process will, be more of a technocratic rather than a political process.”