Multiple development actors are interested in stimulating more inclusive fiscal governance.
Efforts to generate greater budget transparency, citizen participation in resource allocation, and public oversight of government spending are commonplace. How can development donors and lenders support such efforts, and what are their limitations? How do their attempts to do so interact? Exploring the outcomes of two projects in the Nigerian States of Jigawa and Kaduna provide some answers to these questions: the Partnership to Engage, Reform and Learn (PERL) programme funded by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, and the World Bank States Financial Transparency Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) initiative. Their actions have been complementary in several ways, despite significant contextual differences between the states in terms of conflict dynamics and prevailing citizen–state relations. The projects also reinforced each other’s efforts on public procurement reform in Kaduna State. However, in Jigawa State, SFTAS incentives to pass a procurement law following a standard template failed to codify and may indeed reverse gains from longstanding PERL efforts supporting transparency. This illustrates how donors with similar reform objectives in the same contexts can unconsciously undermine existing efforts towards overarching public accountability goals.