Budget Implementation is Failing to Achieve Citizens’ Human Rights, SERAP Tells Finance Minister
A civil society group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has told the Federal Government to “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.”
The organization in a statement dated 31 July 2012, and signed by its Executive Director Adetokunbo Mumuni stated that, “We challenge the statement by the Federal Government through the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala that the 2012 budget is 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.”
According to the organization, “We are seriously concerned that an important issue of budget implementation is being trivialized and politicised by the government of President Goodluck Jonathan. 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.”
The organization also stated that, “So far, there is no evidence to suggest that the allocation of resources and expenditure by this 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.”
The organization also said that, “the government should 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.”
“What is urgently needed is for this government and the National Assembly to ensure the application of a human rights based approach to budget decisions and implementation. Otherwise, millions of Nigerians will continue to be denied their internationally recognized economic and social rights, including their right to their natural wealth and resources,” the organization also stated.
“The government should also move swiftly to ratify the Protocol to the ICESCR so that Nigerians are able to challenge the denial of their economic and social rights including through the failure to effectively implement the national budget in the citizens’ interest. The government should also go ahead to make the declaration necessary for Nigerians to access the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the violations of their human rights under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights,” the organization added.