According to Malam Isah Ahmed, a Community Development Charter (CDC) champion, the LGEA primary school in Jangargari Community, Jampalan Ward, Ikara Local Government Area (LGA), which was established in 1976, since inception had only one block of now overcrowded classrooms. To ameliorate the unconducive learning environment for the pupils, the community stakeholders during the CDC process nominated the construction of an additional block of two classrooms as a priority, which was submitted to the Local Government Council.
As a result, an additional one block of two classrooms has been constructed and equipped with desks, chairs and blackboards. This has reduced the overcrowded state of the classes. As currently, the teachers and pupils are enjoying a conducive teaching and learning environment. Similarly, due to a fire outbreak that burnt one block of two classrooms and an office in L.E.A Primary School Mahuta, in Igabi Local Government Area, classes were usually congested and not fit for learning.
Malam Usman Adamu, a CDC Champion, opined that “this caused serious challenges in the school that made learning very difficult to the extent that the school management borrowed the premises of neighboring houses to hold classes.” In 2022, the Mahuta community members identified and nominated the project during the CDC process. Impressively, after the Kaduna State Government disbursed the Local Government Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (LFTAS) grants to the 23 LGAs, Igabi LGA used its share of N3.4 million to reconstruct the nominated burnt block of classrooms currently in use.
This is proof that citizens’ participation in the budget process is a catalyst for inclusive and sustainable development. Kaduna State has officially adopted participatory budgeting, with the approval of the Community Development Charter (CDC) protocol, in 2022, by the State Executive Council (SEC). Likewise, the Local Government Reform Law. 2018, has provisions in section 56 mandating Councils to develop a culture of participatory governance by creating conditions for local communities to participate in development planning, budget formulation and performance assessment.
Furthermore, section 72 (1,c) of the same law states that ” local government Annual Estimates shall be deemed to not have been approved by the local government executive and legislative council, unless it has been subjected to consultation with and input from members of the various communities in the local government in a town-hall meeting.” It went on to state in sub-section (1,d) that “ local government Annual Estimates which has not been subjected to consultation with members of the communities in a town-hall meeting, shall not be submitted to the House of Assembly for appropriation.”
Equally important is that since signing onto the Open Government Partnership (OGP) reform initiative, the State has consistently adopted the commitment on open budget in the two previous State Action Plans (SAPs), as well as the current draft. The commitment has advanced more effective citizens’ participation in the entire budget process. As well as enabled the integration of the CDC in the budget formulation and implementation process. This has been strengthened by the automation of the CDC submission process (www.citizensdemand.org), approved by SEC, which has seen an increase in the inclusion of hitherto excluded communities in the budget process.
The CDC process is increasingly empowering citizens to work collectively in an inclusive, participatory and consensus-oriented way to prioritize community needs. These prioritized needs are then submitted to both the State and 23 Local governments to inform the annual budgets. Evidently, the Kaduna Local Government Accountability Mechanism (KAD-LGAM), with support of Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO) funded Partnership to Engage, Reform & Learn (PERL), annually deploys the CDC influence and performance tracker to assess the extend citizens are shaping the annual budgets.
For instance, in 2022, the citizens’ prioritized needs in the 23 Local Governments on average had a budget release performance of 40.36%, an improvement from about 30% in the previous year. Beyond budget releases, evidence now shows, as highlighted in the first few paragraphs above, that some CDC nominated projects have been successfully implemented. Thankfully, though we are not where we want to be, we are not where we used to be.
Nonetheless, the Governor, Senator Uba Sani, in line with his SUSTAIN pillar on Nurturing Citizens Engagement, particularly as regards community engagement, will need to do more to not only sustain the gains of CDC (participatory budgeting) but also deepen it to enable wider citizens’ buy-in of the government’s policies, programmes and projects. More so, that the Governor has publicly declared that the priority of the administration will be rural development. The Council Chairmen also have a critical role to play in fully embracing the CDC process and increase spending on community nominated projects.
Lets engage, ask the right questions and hold the government accountable.
Yusuf Ishaku Goje