Alumna Chioma Adaobi Nzewi is a champion of strong economic management. Working in a traditionally male-dominated industry, Chioma is making major headway in building robust budgeting at the Ministry of Petroleum Resources in Nigeria. Her focus is on cultivating a culture of accountability and ownership of budgeting among colleagues.
National budgeting is long, detailed and highly technical. It involves many players and many processes to get it right. That includes having executive formulate budgets and enacting them through Parliament. It also includes managing expenditure by ministries, departments and agencies as well as auditing.
When the Federal Government of Nigeria decided in 2003 to transform its budgeting in line with global best standards, it introduced the computerised Government Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS). This system enhanced budgeting productivity and transparency through a real-time resource management system and modernised fiscal processes using information technology.
Chioma used her studies in the Master of International and Development Economics at the Australia National University (ANU) to increase her proficiency in economic analysis.
‘While at ANU, I learned to use advanced economic analysis tools to interpret the effects of policy change and to formulate economic policies,’ says Chioma. ‘I also enhanced my capacity in the use of statistical software, including Stata and E-Views, for budget forecasting and simulation. The scholarship also strengthened my public speaking, leadership and interpersonal skills, my ability to study online and to think out-of-the-box for effective budgeting.’
While in Australia, Chioma participated in the model Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting organised by the Royal Commonwealth Society. The model challenges participants to act as the Head of Government of a Commonwealth country, to build consensus on current global issues for a better future. The experience built Chioma’s understanding of coordinating policies in international and development economics.
Separately, Chioma served as the Vice-President of the ANU Africa Students Association, which improves the environment of African scholars studying in ANU on academic and non-academic interests.
‘On return to Nigeria, I was posted as a Desk Officer in the Budget Division of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources. Part of my responsibility was to review agency budgets to ensure they are in line with the estimates provided by the Ministry of Budget and National Planning,’ says Chioma.
Chioma relied on her award training to prepare the personnel, overhead and capital budget at the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, using GIFMIS. She then trained her colleagues to improve their working skills on GIFMIS and development economics issues. Her hard work and dexterity in applying her skills in developing budgets has paid off, with her Ministry recently praised by the Ministry of Budget and National Planning for having the best presentation and praised by the National Assembly for the most detailed budget breakdown.
Chioma was also chosen to represent her Ministry as part of the oil and gas sector working team. This team is contributing to the development of a three-year rolling plan as part of Nigeria’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan-Implementation Plan (2017–2020).
Another achievement was the partnership Chioma initiated with the Advancement of Association of Cost Engineers in Nigeria. Through this collaboration, she trained 50 National Youth Service Corp members on how to manage engineering procurement and construction projects in the extractives sector.
Chioma credits the Australia Awards for strengthening her knowledge on the importance of economic growth and development through technological and technical skills for economic planning and budgeting.
Alumna Chioma Adaobi Nzewi (black and white top) during a stakeholder engagement.