Nigeria: Budget Credibility and the Sustainable Development Goals

Sep 10, 2022

Since signing on to the 2030 Agenda for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015, Nigeria has mainstreamed efforts to incorporate the 17 SDGs into its National Development Plan (NDP). Given that the majority of financing for achieving the SDGs comes from government sources, effective government implementation of the budget is a central component for achieving the NDP and, through it, the SDGs. Like many governments, however, the government of Nigeria does not always implement its budget as approved by the legislature, an issue known as budget realism or budget credibility.

This brief presents research conducted into the implementation of Nigeria’s federal budget as it relates to seven key sectors associated with 10 SDGs. The research covers budget implementation from 2018 to 2020, analyzing trends in budget credibility and comparing these trends to Nigeria’s efforts to achieve the SDGs. These seven sectors are: agriculture and food, education, environment, gender, health, social protection and water and sanitation. This brief shows that there are large shifts that take place between when the government’s budget is approved and when it is spent. Over the three years reviewed, the government underspent its budget by 32 percent, on average. Certain sectors, such as agriculture, water and sanitation, and the environment, saw much greater underspending, on average, than the total budget, with this underspending persisting across all three years. The lack of a credible budget, where spending follows the plans and priorities laid out by the legislature, can potentially undermine achievement of the SDGs in these sectors as well as shift government’s priorities away from stated targets and goals that have been laid out in development plans and budgets.

This brief contains six sections: the first section provides an overview of how Nigeria’s government has aligned its planning and budgeting processes to ensure progress on achieving the SDGs; the second section reviews government systems and practices on budget credibility; the third section presents data on the federal government budget from 2018-2020 related to the focus sectors; the fourth section surveys the impact of COVID-19 on government spending patterns in 2020; the fifth section explains the role of gender in the budget process; the sixth section explains data sources and limitation; and the seventh section offers recommendations and conclusions.

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