The ability of any government to effectively deliver on its mandate rises and falls on the quality or otherwise of its planning and budgeting process. This reality places the Planning and Budget Commission, Kaduna, at the center of delivering the current administration’s social contract with residents of the State as captured in the SUSTAIN blueprint.
The Commission has a mission to serve as an effective machinery for the formulation, coordination, monitoring and evaluation of Government economic policies, plans and budgets to enhance the socio-economic development of the state and its people using a competent and well-motivated workforce. This heavy burden of responsibility to deliver the mission statement has now been placed on the shoulders of the new Commissioner of the Commission, Honorable Muktar Ahmed.
Over the next few years, he will be charged with the responsibility to lead the Commission to: facilitate development of State and local government plans; prepare and implement annual State budgets; coordinate development partners’ support; monitor and evaluate government projects and programmes; support and coordinate the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); collect and manage data; support the implementation of the Social Safety programme; and register all residents in the State.
The performance indicators that will be used to assess the Commissioner are indeed high. Considering the current disturbing fiscal, economic and social indices of the State, which will require equitable, efficient and effective planning and budgeting process to be addressed. Thankfully, the Governor of Kaduna State, Senator Uba Sani, was reported by one of the dailies to have told the newly inaugurated Commissioners that they shall be strictly assessed based on performance indicators and anyone who failed to measure up shall be shown the way out.
The Commissioner from his background and particularly his experience as the former Executive Chairman of the Kaduna Internal Revenue Service and Federal law-maker is in a better position to appreciate the myriad of challenges confronting the State. The question on the lips of many stakeholders are: will the new Commissioner be reform-minded; will he sustain and strengthen ongoing reforms; and will he surpass the performance of his predecessors? The answers will surely emerge in the coming weeks and months.
Even so, it should not be difficult for the Commissioner to succeed as he has experienced senior management staff in the Commission to guide and support him. More so, as the administration campaigned to SUSTAIN the reforms of the previous administration. Importantly, there will be a need to review all reforms being championed by the Commission to enhance what is working well, address what is not and adapt lessons that will improve the quality of implementation.
For the civil society, the success of the Commissioner will mean reviewing and improving the quality of implementation of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) principles and commitments, Community Development Charter (CDC) protocol/portal as well as the Local Government Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (LFTAS), annual budget town-hall meetings and increasing citizens’ influence in the budget. Equally important, is to ensure realistic budgeting within the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) recommendations as well as strict adherence to policy-budget linkage starting with the 2024 budget formulation process.
To ensure result-based service delivery, the Monitoring & Evaluation Department should be strengthened to facilitate multi-stakeholders and publicly report the annual Sector Implementation Plan and midterm State Development Plan performance reviews to better meet the SDGs targets. This will largely depend on strengthening the agencies responsible for data and information management systems in the State. Particularly, that effective planning and budgeting will need credible and usable data to deliver on its purpose. More so, sustaining, cleaning and updating the State Social Register will be key to the administration’s effort towards social protection for the poor and vulnerable groups.
The Honorable Commissioner has a rare opportunity to write his name in gold. Specifically, by enabling more effective citizens’ participation, buy-in and ownership of the administration’s plans and budgets. On the part of the civil society, we are ready to continue to play our part in ensuring the Commission delivers on its mandate by engaging, asking the right questions and holding the government accountable.
Yusuf Ishaku Goje