In the last week, a lot has been said about the work BudgIT does. Our motives have been questioned, our support from trusted partners queried, accusations made against our staff – and now we have received new information about threats.
These threats directly reference our Tweets about information published on the Lagos State Public Procurement Agency website for the “Upgrade of www.tundefashola.com website post May 29, 2015 Handover.”
We are disheartened that in a democracy, threats are being made over the mere fact that a civic organisation highlighted public finance data to none other than the public. We reiterate that the information was, and (at the timing of this statement), still is on the website, and therefore in the public domain, and therefore legally open to scrutiny by BudgIT.
http://www.lagosppa.gov.ng/awarded-contracts/details-contracts-award-2014. We have made no accusations, neither have we published any (secret) document or violated any government rules.
We are at a loss as to why these threats should be made, as our actions were motivated by nothing more than our role as an institution respected for data-driven advocacy for accountability, transparency and openness in the management of public funds in Nigeria.
We state once more that we have no political interest as we don’t take funds or seek untoward favours from government officials or politicians. Our relationship with government institutions has always been on intersecting civic engagement with institutional reform and this is mainly funded by international donor support. We also want to state that we are not interested in any timing as regards the motives of this as we have only highlighted a public document published on May 13, 2015. We advise other Nigerians to interrogate the document and ask questions as responsible tax-paying citizens.
We hereby place our fellow Nigerians, the Inspector-General of Police Solomon Arase, and the Lagos State Commissioner of Police Ajani Owoseni on notice, should anything happen to any member of our staff or persons affiliated with BudgIT in Lagos and our focal States of operation.
Therefore, should any parties with vested interests take issue with our airing of information paid for by taxpayers (including BudgIT staff), then the legal courts are open to them as an option to seek recourse and we encourage them to make use of this option, rather than take the criminal option of making threats. The most effective way is to allow a democracy operate as a democracy; and allow past and serving public officials remain beholden to the people they swore to serve.
The labours of our heroes past, who died that this democracy may come to pass shall never be in vain. The dreams of the ordinary Nigerians who died at the polls, who die every day because of corruption, insecurity and waste motivates us and necessitates us to reiterate: WE REFUSE TO BE INTIMIDATED.
Lead Partner, BudgIT