Federal Government of Nigeria should “come clean and acknowledge that its implementation of the budget in the past years has failed completely to achieve the citizens’ human rights, and satisfy Nigeria’s international obligations and commitments to fulfil those rights,” a civil society group has said.
Adetokunbo Mumuni, Executive Director of Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) challenged the statement by Nigeria’s Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iwaela that the 2012 budget was being implemented to “protect and enhance the best interests of Nigerians”. “This statement clearly cannot be supported in the face of the increasing poverty and suffering that millions of Nigerians experience almost on a daily basis,” Mr. Mumuni said.
SERAP said they were seriously concerned that the budget implementation was “being trivialized and politicised” by President Goodluck Jonathan’s government.
“Nigeria is a state party to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), which provides clearly that the country’s maximum available resources must be used to satisfy the basic needs of Nigerians such as water, health, food and electricity,” SERAP said.
The organization said there was nothing to prove that the allocation of resources and expenditure by the government through the 2012 budget satisfy the human rights obligations generated by ICESCR.
“The result is that the government has not been able to provide the minimum core of essential health care, basic shelter and housing, water and sanitation, foodstuffs, and the most basic forms of education for millions of our people. This leads to discrimination and vulnerability which causes further human rights violations,” SERAP said.
The organization urged the government to “demonstrate more transparency and accountability by for example swiftly publishing widely including on the internet, how much of the 2012 budget has so far been spent on providing essential health care, water, electricity, and basic education for Nigerians.”
SERAP said there was urgent need for the government and the National Assembly to ensure the application of a human rights based approach to budget decisions and implementation.
Failure to do so, SERAP warned, “millions of Nigerians will continue to be denied their internationally recognized economic and social rights, including their right to their natural wealth and resources.”