Launch of Nigeria’s first sub-national public finance database

On the 19th of September 2022, the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) launched Nigeria’s first open-source sub-national public finance database:

The portal hosts comparable annual data on government spending, revenues, and financing for all 36 State governments of the federation. It also features hundreds of performance indicators that gauge the quality of public spending and the intersection with State-level service delivery outcomes.

In the last decade, there has been significant donor support for public financial management (PFM) reforms in the country, particularly on budget systems strengthening. But these reforms have been isolated in states where such technical assistance programs exist, roughly a third. Unlike at the federal level where reforms were long driven by the need to meet international reporting standards including the International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS) and the Public Expenditure and Financial Accountability (PEFA) framework, at the State-level, collective action was stirred by a headwind of oil-led fiscal crises which destabilized the budgets of state governments, including the 2008/09 financial crisis, the 2014/16 oil shock, and the COVID-19 pandemic which was a perfect storm of falling oil prices and a health crisis.

The new database will provide a coordinated environment for these reforms. It will contribute to moving the needle for governance reforms in a federal country like Nigeria, by closing the data gap at the state level that has long restrained public policy research, advocacy, and action from the bottom up. In the near term, it should also feed into a centralized single treasury portal for the country, covering the fiscal data of all three tiers of government in the federation.

All data published in the database are sourced from government budget documents and audited financial statements and presented in line with the National Chart of Accounts (NCOA).

The article was written by David Nabena, Chief Economist, Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Abuja.