On the 28th December, 2021, the Local Government Accountability Mechanism (LGAM), Kaduna state, paid an advocacy visit to the Executive Chairman of Kaduna North Local Government, Honorable Muktar Baloni, at the Local Government Secretariat.
The aim of the visit is to identify areas of collaboration in strengthening fiscal transparency, accountability and improve service delivery in Kaduna North Local Government Area. Also, to intimate the Chairman on the forthcoming Public Policy Dialogue on Local Government Fiscal Sustainability and Service Delivery.
In attendance at the meeting was the Chairman, representative of the Secretariat and members of LGAM.
The team from the Local Government Accountability Mechanism congratulated the Executive Chairman on his swearing-in with the mandate to steer the ship of the Local Government over the next three years; and also expressed optimism that as a young politician he will bring to bear his creativity, innovation, energy and coupled with his experience as the immediate past Vice Chairman.
The Executive Chairman was commended for demonstrating commitment to community engagement by carrying out a series of town-hall meetings to engage stakeholders and get feedback on his proposed plans and 2022 budget. Also, for partnering with civil society under the Mobilizing Citizens for OGP project to organize a town-hall meeting to facilitate interface between stakeholders in Kaduna North and key State Government’s Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
The Local Government Accountability Mechanism was co-created by the Ministry for Local Government Affairs and civil society partners with support from the Partnership to Engage, Reform & Learn (PERL) in 2019, which led to the establishment of the technical working groups in the 23 Local Government Areas of Kaduna state.
The mechanism is a permanent dialogue platform made up of an equal number of government and civil society actors with the goal of deepening ongoing local government reforms through a community engagement framework.
Some of the reforms cut across components in the Local Government Reform Law, 2018; Local Government Development Plan; Community Development Charter (CDC) and Local Government Fiscal Transparency, Accountability & Sustainability (LFTAS) program.
There is a need to organize a reorientation engagement for members of the Kaduna North LGAM technical working group and new Council members to acquaint them on ongoing Local Government reforms, scope of the mechanism and review of the two-year action-plan.
The CDC, a bottom-top and participatory budgeting process, needs to be strengthened to ensure more community stakeholders effectively participate and improve the performance of the Local Government on LGAM CDC Score-card.
There is the need to revisit the implementation strategy section of the Local Government Development Plan that provides for a community engagement framework during the procurement and service delivery process. Hence, the need to develop the procurement manual, template for the Community Project Report Card and organize quarterly stakeholders’ town-hall meetings.
The Council needs to work more closely with the Kaduna North LGAM to improve its LFTAS performance ranking of 5th in the 2018 assessment.
The non-payment of the 2018 LFTAS performance grant, even though not the major purpose of the program, has discouraged many of the Local Government Councils from sustaining many of the resultant reforms.
Also, the issue of inadequate remittance of the statutory 10% to Local Government Councils by the State Government. This needs to be addressed to ensure more funds get to the Councils to carry out pro-people projects and interventions.
The collaboration between the Council and other relevant stakeholders should be strengthened to enhance the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the Local Governments. However, the State Government is already taking steps to address blockages in the areas of reconciliation and remittance of IGR collected on behalf of the Local Governments.
The Kaduna North Local Government Council after being sworn-in reviewed the draft 2022 budget and increased the revenue projections. It was discovered that the Local Government has the potential to generate between six hundred million to one billion naira annually as internal revenue.
The Council is carrying out reforms that will optimize its revenue collection. The Executive Council is working with its Legislative (Councilors) counterpart to pass relevant bye-laws that will enable the Council to widen the revenue base and strengthen the collection process.
The Council is setting the pace by holding rotational community engagement town-hall meetings across the wards in the Local Government Area. This is to ensure inclusion and will be carried out quarterly throughout the tenure of the current administration.
The bureaucracy that cuts across the required clearance by the Ministry for Local Government Affairs, approval by Kaduna Public Procurement Authority for procurements of above ten million naira and duration of tender process are a major source of concern as it delays the timely execution of projects. The Council has employed direct labor to cut costs and ensure timely execution of contracts.
The Council is planning to adapt and domesticate the South African ANC model of engaging community stakeholders, with an incentive, to monitor projects in their communities.
The Council chairman is promoting a participatory approach to governance that will ensure the accommodation of all citizens irrespective of political differences.
The Council intends to engage education and health stakeholders on the need to increase transparency and accountability towards improving service delivery at the grassroots.
The Council Chairman has an open door policy that allows members of his constituency to have direct access to him at the office and through social media platforms (Facebook and WhatsApp).
The Council will partner with the Local Government Accountability Mechanism to organize a refresher orientation for members of the LGAM technical working group on the ongoing reforms and review of the two-year action-plan to align with the priorities of the administration.
The Council Chairman will be part of the panel of discussants at the Public Policy Dialogue on Local Government Fiscal Sustainability and Service Delivery slated for the second week of January.
Facilitate a loose network of civil society made up of the Ward Development Committee, School Based Management Committee, Community Development Charter champions and Social Protection champions to engage the Council more effectively on service delivery.
The Council will partner with key stakeholders to strengthen and increase transparency in the revenue collection system.
The Kaduna North Council will orientate and support project’s host communities on procurement processes to enable them to effectively track and monitor projects within their locality.
The Council is to partner with CDC Champions to organize the next quarterly town-hall meeting.
Bako Abdul Usman
Kaduna North LGAM
Yusuf Ishaku Goje
LGAM, Kaduna state