PRESS STATEMENT ON THE REVIEW OF THE 2018 APPROPRIATION BILL FROM A YOUTH PERSPECTIVE

Introduction

In line with constitutional stipulations and governance practice, President Muhammadu Buhari submitted a budget proposal of N8.612 trillion to the National Assembly on November 7, 2017 as 2018 Appropriation bill. The budget tagged Budget of Consolidation is expected to consolidate on the achievements of previous budgets and strengthen the administration’s Economic Growth and Recovery plan (EGRP). The budget is one of the most important instruments of governance because it provides guidance on how government intends to spend public funds to meet the needs of citizens. It is therefore inherent on citizens to participate in budget process to ensure transparency, equity and accountability in the allocation public resources.

The YIAGA Centre for Legislative Engagement undertook an analysis of the 2018 Appropriation bill from a youth perspective. The objective of the review was to ascertain the following;

  1. The Federal government’s priority for youth development based on the budget proposal
  2. The responsiveness of the 2018 budget to the needs and priorities of young people
  3. General Observations and Gaps in the ministry’s budget and
  4. Recommendations for a youth responsive budgeting

 

The approach adopted is mainly a desk review of key social and economic sectors with relatively high responsibilities for youth development in the proposed 2018 Federal Government budget and a review of policies and macroeconomic plans for youth development in Nigeria. The following sector were reviewed in the analysis Agriculture, Education, Health, Industry Trade and Investment, the National Directorate of Employment, the Social Investment Program and the Federal Ministry of Youths and Sports Development.

Findings and Observations

The review of sectoral budgets especially Federal Ministry of Youth and Sport Development budget indicates that most of the agencies did not apply the principles of good budgeting like adequacy, equity, transparency and efficient allocation of resources. The budget as proposed by most of the agencies like the FMYSD are unrealistic given the magnitude of the youth demography and challenges youth face in Nigeria.

 

General observation on the FMYSD budget

Generally, it is observed that the FMYSD budget is very lean when compared to the role it is expected to perform. Five percent (5%) of the budget was earmarked for capital expenditure covering programmes and infrastructure, while 95% of FMYSD budget will be spent on recurrent expenditure. Most of the expenditure lines are administrative in nature. In other words, priority is placed on procurement of items such as vehicles, computers, furniture fittings, repairs of offices etc. In the proposed budget, the ministry introduced too many new projects, which are underfunded and this may lead to incomplete projects thus adding to the growing number of abandoned projects. Details of budget line were not explicit to ensure transparency and fiscal responsibility. For instance, budget items in the FMYSD – HQ and the Nigeria Football Federation budget for sporting activities within the recurrent budget were not clearly stated. Both agencies could end up expending public resources for same activities if the type, location and beneficiaries are not clearly stated.

Specific observations

  1. The priority needs of young people in Nigeria include but not limited to gainful employment, Education, political participation and representation and Sexual Reproductive Health Services. Being gainfully employed is not only based on availability of jobs but also employability of young persons. The ERGP states that 3.5 million jobs will be created annually while the N- power programme will employ 500,000 graduates annually.Based on the scope of this analysis, the allocations within the various sectors targeted at youth training, skills building, entrepreneurship or empowerment are very insignificant in contributing to the realisation of 500,000 jobs.
  2. The quality of budgetary allocations is also worrisome for instance SMEDAN intends to provide tricycles and buses to empower youths. Handing tricycles to individuals is a very unsustainable strategy for youth empowerment. The model should be better designed to create a transportation business that does not revolve around individuals rather a transport fleet that is well managed by a cooperative to ensure proper maintenance and continuity.
  3. Poor access to information on/and access to reproductive health services for urban and rural youth has led to devastating impact on HIV prevalence, drug addiction, unwanted pregnancies and unsafe abortions including rape among youth. It is tragic to find that there are no targeted programmes to address these needs among youth within the health sector.
  4. Allocations within the Education sector are focused on infrastructural development, teacher training and curriculum development. There is no gainsaying that the need for our educational system to provide the right training at the right time is crucial to the employability of our youth. Training could be informal – vocational, skills building, entrepreneurship or formal training offered within the formal institutions. There is a huge challenge engaging youths who are unable to get into the higher institutions due to the inability of the country’s institutions to absorb them.
  5. Generally, the allocations in the budget focus hugely on constructions-building structures like class rooms, hostel etc, but did not give high priority by allocation adequate funds to the soft skills such as Information, Communication Technology which is the gateway to 21st century development and comparative advantage for Nigerian youths.
  6. The N-Power programmes integrated into the budget are difficult to isolate. Thus the 500,000 jobs annually attributed to N-Power cannot be tracked from within the sector budgets
  7. National Directorate of Employment (NDE), Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEDAN), FMYSD all have allocations for skills acquisition, empowerment, training, construction of skills acquisition centre etc which are similar in nature. Too many actors in the same field may lead to duplication, waste and promotes corruptible practices.
  8. Allocations to youth programmes should be strictly for young persons. Lumping budgets for youth with women was seen across most of the sectors. Although both are vulnerable groups their needs are surely different.

Recommendations

  1. It is therefore recommended that the MDAs adjusts the pattern of allocation to the 70:30 percent rule for Recurrent and Capital budget respectively, reflecting the policy on public finance management which the Federal Government has adjusted to.
  2. New projects within agencies should be reduced to a manageable number that will allow for optimal funding of project and possible completion within the medium term, depending on the size of the project.
  3. Projects on entrepreneurship, vocational skills should be adequately funded or left to specific ministries with direct functions such as NDE. There is need to harmonize youth programmes to ensure synergies and reduce duplications – a guideline on responsibility and budget priority for youth within federal agencies should be produced by the FMYSD.To avoid duplications of activities across sector, details on type, location, number and target audience should be provided in the budget. This will ensure a more transparent and efficient allocation of resources.
  4. To avoid duplications, budgets for Sporting Activities in FMYSD-HQ and the Nigeria Football Federation should provide details on type, location and target audience. This will ensure a more transparent and efficient allocation of resources.
  5. Youth training on Leadership is very important. The Citizens and Leadership Centre’s budget should be increased to provide at least 6 zonal leadership programmes yearly. The agency should also reflect it revenue generating capacity within its budget.
  6. Public private partnerships for the provision of entrepreneurship and sporting activities through the relevant agencies should be encouraged and such budgets captured within public funding to ensure accountability
  7. The MDA’s should budget separately for youth activities from that of women and children. Since this is an area of intervention that needs strategic approach, it is important that allocations are separated; this will also enable tracking of funds and oversight of budget.

Signed

Samson Itodo

Executive Director

YIAGA Induct Writers to Document Experiences of Young Politicians

The Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth and Advancement, (YIAGA) Centre for Legislative Engagement (CLE) has inducted a team of Writers to implement a book project that will serve as a resource pool for young men and women interested in running for public office in Nigeria. The book would leverage on previous experiences of political office holders while running for office in a bid to inspire citizens to run for public office.

To this end, YIAGA-CLE issued a call for creative writers, out of which Six writers were selected based on the strength of their applications and invited to an induction/methodology workshop to brief them on the nature of the project and solicit their feedback in designing its workplan. The selected writers include; Temitayo Olofinlua, Head Writer, Richard Ali, Aishat Abiri, Beatrice Porbeni, Amara Okolo, and Eketi Ette.

The book is expected to share experiences of young people mainly under 35 years old who ran and won elections at various level and a couple of candidates who ran but did not win.  During the induction, Professor Shola Omotola from Ekiti State University highlighted the challenges faced by candidates, particularly young candidates at various stages of elections. Prof. Omotola also suggests other areas of interest where the writers can explore during interview with young politicians who can for office and this includes issues relating to political mentorship popularly known as Godfatherism.

There was also a session on lesson learnt from similar publications in the past. Wumi Asubiaro one of the facilitators, presented “Election Herstories: Lessons Learnt” based on her experience writing a book with multiple authors on women in politics. Election Herstories documented the stories of 13 women, grouping them into themes based on the most interesting parts of their stories. Wumi explained that the decision to group in themes came after interviews were conducted and the first draft was completed. She commended the decision to use creative writers instead of activists or academics. She also stressed the importance of creating complementary products such as video documentary with the book to enhance publicity.

YIAGA Annual Retreat! – 2018!!! Our Year of Disruption

Making Great Things Happen!

Achieving Together!!

Building a Community of Experts!!!

Fresh from the successes achieved in the year 2017 which include the passage of the #NotTooYoungToRun Bill in both House of Representatives and Senate and successfully observing the November 18, Anambra Gubernatorial election, YIAGA has tagged 2018 as the ‘Year of Disruption’.  This was revealed during the institution’s annual retreat held in Abuja on 12th and 13th of January, 2018.

According to YIAGA Executive Director, Samson Itodo, YIAGA has become a reference point with respect to advocacy, youth participation and electoral matters. He applauded the growing influence of YIAGA within the region and improvement in institutional growth particularly in programme implementation, advocacy and knowledge production.

The retreat which had members of the board in attendance, witnessed several reflections and projections by the different departments. Chairman of the board, Dr. Hussaini Abdu placed emphasis on the importance of becoming resourceful at the individual level as well as the institutional level. He noted that “many Nigerian NGOs started well but could not handle the pressure of growth and getting grants”.

According to Dr Abdu, YIAGA on the other hand has succeeded in evolving and has survived this challenge but there is need for YIAGA to maintain her relevance within the local, regional and international community. He reiterated the need to be dynamic and adapt to changing contexts by being disruptive in the year 2018.

Cynthia Mbamalu, Programme Manager, YIAGA gave an overview of YIAGA projects, activities and programmes in 2017. She stated that, YIAGA recorded great achievements in 2017. Among successes recorded was the ability to lead through, particularly, the ‘Not Too Young To Run (NTYTR)’ and Youth Organizing School (YOS) projects. YOS had 1329 applications with 109 beneficiaries. Additionally, YIAGA was able to choose State Coordinators, keeping NTYTR in the state media and assemblies without direct presence she noted.

She also noted that, on the National Day of Action for #NotTooYoungToRun Bill, there was a march to the National Assembly and also in 24 State Capitals with 12,000 youths participating in general, including Borno State. She further itemized YIAGA’s accomplishments in 2017 which include:

  1. Organized a Town Hall Meeting on NTYTR with Speakers from Kwara, Ekiti, Benue, Kaduna and representation from Kebbi and Cross Rivers in attendance.
  2. Passage of NTYTR bill in 11 State Houses of Assembly as at December 2017.
  • Launched Ready to Run with 170 registrations in the first month.
  1. Connecting Youth with Government and increasing youth interest in political issues.
  2. Engaged in policy dialogue on youth development.
  3. Organized colloquium on youth and their future in Nigeria.
  • Provided support to the office of the Senate President.
  • Organized Democracy Summer Camp with 258 students (135 girls).
  1. Running of the Radio Ambassadors program under the accountability project.
  2. Establishment of the Centre for Legislative Engagement programme.
  3. YIAGA Election team got feedback from INEC when we put out our reports, we got media attributions to WTV.
  • YIAGA Election Team released our turnout figures before the results and prompted INEC to do same which is usually not the case with INEC.
  • YIAGA had the Chair of INEC visit and he met with election team (WTV).
  • YIAGA-CLE did lots of Bill Analysis, Budget Analysis, Youth Budget Analysis for 2017 and Budget of Ministry of Youth and Sports Development Analysis for 2017.

 

YIAGA PARTNERS ECOWAS IN PROMOTING EDUCATION

As ECOWAS celebrates Human Rights Day

The Youth Initiative for Advocacy Growth and Advancement (YIAGA) is partnering with the Economic Community of West African State (ECOWAS) to promote basic quality and affordable education to commemorate Human Rights Day. The event which is holding in Monrovia, Liberia from 16-18th January aims to advance the Right to Education by improving accessibility, affordability and efficiency to every citizen of the ECOWAS community.

YIAGA  also facilitated a regional dialogue to discuss democratic accountability, civic space and youth radicalization in the West African region. The dialogue will also enable youths provide feed backs on various ECOWAS initiatives.

At the Human Rights Day event in Liberia, YIAGA presented a report on youth candidacy around Africa, showing the number of young people who have contested political offices in various parts of the continent. This is in a bid to further encourage youths especially in Nigeria to run for political offices, leveraging on YIAGA’s ReadyToRun platform for support.

Speaking during the Human Rights Day celebration in Monrovia, YIAGA Programs Cynthia Mbamalu said, the trends from the Report on Youth Candidacy in Africa also shows that young people are winning more parliamentary elections than executive seat even though finance has been a major challenge according to the report.

Pertinent questions regarding the education standard of the members of the ECOWAS sub-region as another hinderance against political participation of young people and women. While seeking to attain its Vision 2020 goal for education, this year’s celebration of Human Rights Day stimulated political will and policy decision in a bid to enable legislation and resources from governments of Member States shift from passive policy approach to a much more proactive approach. This according to the ECOWAS Commissioner of Political affairs, Peace and Security: H.E Halima Ahmed (Mrs), will improve the accessibility, affordability and efficiency of education to the ordinary citizen of the community, thereby increasing literacy rate in the region.

Mrs. Ahmed facilitated sessions on the Trends, Challenges and Prospects of Protecting and Promoting Human Rights in Member States in the context of Right to Education. This provided the opportunity to review progress and analyses challenges towards the protection and promotion of human rights. Panelists which include former Executive Secretary of the Network of National Human Rights Institutions in West Africa (NNHRI-WA), Mr Saka Azimazi and Senior Human Rights Officer – United Nations Office for West Africa & Sahel (UNOWAS), Mr. William Lifongo, proffered practical solutions and policy recommendations targeted at enhancing the protection and promotion of human rights in the region.

Furthermore, the 2-day event in Monrovia enhanced quality and inclusivity in the Respect for Right to Education which is geared towards the attainment of ECOWAS Vision 2020, while also protecting and promoting Rights to Education for the effective realization and enjoyment in ECOWAS Member States. Delegates from member countries brainstormed on creating access and opportunity for Children into school as a means of promoting the effectiveness of deepening the respect for Right to Education in the ECOWAS Region. Also present at the event is the President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and newly elected President of Liberia, George Opong Weah.