Date of Conferral
Public Policy and Administration
Although participatory budgeting (PB) was introduced in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2005, it has yet to be widely adopted. While PB has great potential to enhance citizen participation in the democratic process, little academic research has focused on the utility of PB as a mechanism for citizen empowerment in the region. The purpose of this case study was to gain further understanding of the role of civil society in educating and empowering the citizens of Ijede LCDA in Lagos State, Nigeria to participate effectively in budgetary decision-making processes. The data were gathered from 15 semi-structured, one-on-one interviews of purposefully selected participants that included adult citizens of Ijede, government officials, politicians, and representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) connected to the budget process, two follow-up focus groups with participants, and analysis of government budgetary documents. Using Avritzer's theory of participatory institutions as the foundation, the study explored stakeholder perceptions of how citizens can be effectively educated and empowered to participate in the PB process. The data revealed the fragility of PB when local government officials suspended the process because other financial demands were considered more expedient than PB, a situation made possible in the absence of a legal framework institutionalizing the process. Another major theme uncovered is that PB must engage community-based organizations to be effective. Positive social change in the form of enhanced citizen participation in the political process can come about in Nigeria if PB is implemented under an institutionalized legal framework that guarantees sustainability.