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HomeNewsKaduna State: Social Investment Programmes, A Call For Transparency And Accountability

Kaduna State: Social Investment Programmes, A Call For Transparency And Accountability

By Yusuf Ishaku Goje

The exciting news that the Kaduna State government has begun disbursement of N50,000 to women and persons with disabilities, who opened bank accounts, is well received. This was recently disclosed by the Honorable Commissioner of the Ministry of Human Services & Social Development at a workshop on domestication of the WEE policy organized by Development Research and Projects Centre. Notwithstanding, it is imperative that the process of disbursement is guided by the principles of transparency and accountability. As this is not the first intervention by the administration that has left many questions unanswered.

With increasing global demand for open and accountable governance, data on social investment interventions should be publicly available: how much will be spent, how the beneficiaries were identified and selected, the criteria used, the list of beneficiaries, what businesses are they into, what modalities are going to be used to track and monitor utilization and the expected return on public investment. It is not clear what 2024 budget line the disbursement is drawn from, however, the Ministry has an allocation of N10.03 billion for Social Empowerment Programme and N200 million for Kaduna State Women Empowerment Fund (KADSWEF).

At a time when the State is facing a combination of fiscal constraint, rising poverty and unemployment, the error of inclusion and exclusion in targeting vulnerable beneficiaries of interventions should be reduced to the barest minimum. The tendency for outright politicization or nepotism in the selection and disbursement should be checkmated. This gives credence to the continuous demand for the strict utilization of the social register, of which huge public funds have been expended on. Disturbingly, according to the SOCU portal, out of the 3.9 million individuals on the register, only 315,343 have been mined for various social investment interventions.

There is also a need for more clarity, as the Executive Order on Financial Inclusion signed by the Governor in 2023, states, “the State Government shall develop a STATE REGISTER of the Poor, Under-Served and Vulnerable. The register will be subjected to various stages of integrity tests.” Why spend money to develop a new one and still do a credibility test when there is an existing one? Not forgetting that the administration endorsed the existing one in its SUSTAIN manifesto where it argued, “the State Social Register is providing a credible database for the objective disbursement of targeted interventions for the people who are most in need of it.”

Granted many have questioned the credibility, comprehensiveness and coverage of the register; but rather than throw the baby with the bath water – it should be audited, updated and expanded. Equally worthy of asking is, if the ongoing disbursement is being guided by any policy framework? Despite hinging its commitment, in its manifesto, to fighting poverty and its causes on the Social Protection policy, the administration is yet to approve key implementation frameworks – that of the policy, youth-focused graduation approach and disability law. We hope when the WEE policy is domesticated it will not be another beautiful document on the shelf.

The Commissioner equally was reported to have stated that, “over 15,000 women in Kaduna have been included financially; they own their account so that they can be financially independent and financially included in the Global System of Digitization.” This needs further clarity, as the number seems meager compared to the target of 1 million in the Executive Order, one year after it has been signed. Therefore, the disaggregated number so far of the financially included as a result of the Order should be made public.

The need for improved transparency and accountability in ongoing social investment/empowerment interventions cannot be over-emphasized. This is the only way to shield the targeting process from the overbearing force of nepotism and politicization. Public funds/interventions should not be used to reward political loyalty or commence subtle campaign for the next elections. Already, there are insinuations, though not substantiated by this writer, of such happening with precious interventions.

It is therefore imperative to give priority to system strengthening by reviewing and approving all policies and implementation frameworks. The social register should be updated and beneficiaries of interventions targeting the poor and vulnerable should strictly be mined from it. This will ensure improved transparency and accountability, as it will enable independent third party monitors to track and assess implementation. The focus should be to ensure value for money towards reducing the number of multidimensionally poor in the State.

Lets engage, ask the right questions and hold the government accountable.

Goje is an active citizen, civil society member and OGP enthusiast

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