The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says it plans to strengthen the capacities of states in Nigeria in public finance management to ensure adequate funding for children programmes.

This is contained in a communiqué at the end of a 5-day UNICEF Workshop on Public Finance for Children in Abuja on Sunday.

Participants at the workshop recommended the mainstreaming of UNICEF programmes into states’ development plans for better results.

They decried Nigeria’s heavy reliance on oil revenue as a factor that is detrimental to other sectors.

“Going by presentation from the Budget Office of the Federation on the structure of the Nigerian economy: Nigeria’s tax to GDP ratio is less than 6 per cent; while the sub-Saharan Africa average is 16 per cent,” the participants said.

They also decried the absence of an organic budget law in the country and called on both the executive and the legislature to work towards enacting such law.

“Also going by the presentation it is clear that Nigeria does not have an organic budget law; that is, a financial constitution guiding the budgeting process in the country,” the participants said.

They also stressed the need for UNICEF to engage the Nigeria Governor’s Forum (NGF) as well as states’ Executive Councils to advocate for better funding for children’s programmes.

“There is the need to engage the Nigeria Governor’s Forum (NGF) and Executive Councils at states level in regards to advocacy on budget processes.

“Looking at the presentations from six states-Borno, Cross River, Delta, Jigawa, Kaduna and Kebbi- it showed capacity gaps in budgeting
processes including related planning and programming framework.

“There is also need to support governments at the federal and state levels in budget processes. There is still room to influence 2019 budget,” the participants added.

They also stressed the need for monitoring and reporting mechanism on states’ counterpart funding to ensure strict compliance.

“We need to put in place a monitoring and reporting mechanism on states’ counterpart funding;and report quarterly on this to the Country Management Team.

“We need to maintain high-level advocacy for public financial management in areas affecting children, and collaboration with key actors in Public Finance Management such as the International Monetary Fund.”

They lauded the role of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in the country in Budgeting Processes and urged them to remain steadfast to ensure accountability.

“The CSOs’ role in Budgeting Processes has been commendable especially in the dissemination of budget information to end users through the conventional and social media,” the participants said.

Participants at the workshop organized for staff of UNICEF Regional offices included Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.