The Kaduna State Government said on Wednesday that it would strengthen partnership with Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to entrench accountability and citizens engagement in Local Government administration in the state.
The Commissioner of Local Government Affairs, Malam Ja’afaru Sani stated this in Kaduna, at the Public Presentation of a Report on the establishment of Community Engagement Framework and Accountability Mechanism in 10 LGAs.
Sani explained that the process was aimed at improving the quality of service delivery at local government level.
The Community Engagement Framework and Accountability Mechanism was established in the 10 LGAs with the support of Partnership to Engage, Reform and Learn (PERL), an intervention of the United Kingdom’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.
It was implemented by the Ministry of Local Government Affairs, Coalition of Associations for Leadership, Peace, Empowerment and Development (CALPED), Gender Awareness Trust (GAT), and Open Nigeria Radio programme.
Sani, who was represented by his Senior Special Assistant, Ado Umar, said that the state government had in the past three years been reforming the administration of its local government Councils.
He identified some of the reforms as Open Government Partnership, Local Government Development Plan, Community Development Charter (CDC) and Local Government Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability programme (LFTAS).
According to him, the reforms were geared towards improving the quality of service delivery and living standard of citizens at the grassroots.
“The administration of the LGAs has over the years been left to the imagination of those saddled with the responsibility of governing them.
“The reforms, therefore, was to entrench good governance and strengthen service delivery at grassroot,” he said.
Alhaji Garba Aliyu, Director, Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation in the ministry, said that the Community Engagement Framework and Accountability Mechanism seeks to institutionalise the ongoing reforms.
Aliyu identified the 10 LGCs as Chikun, Kajuru, Jema’a, Zaria, Lere, Sanga, Zangon Kataf, Kaduna South, Ikara, and Sabon Gari.
Aliyu said that the initiative would strengthen the culture of development planning, effective public financial management and citizen’s engagement in governance at local government level.
“This is being done through building a strong synergy among local governments officials, the citizens and community-based organisations and relevant stakeholders.
“This will provide the needed permanent dialogue mechanism for improved service delivery and accountability at local government levels.,” he said.
Presenting the report, Mr Yusuf Goje of CALPED, said that there was improved service delivery following the implementation of local government development plan, CDC and LFTAS.
Goje said that the implementation of the reforms had had some challenges such as weak political will by some of the Council’s leadership and low understanding of the reforms by some LGA staff.
“There was also low capacity among the LGA staff as well as suspicion and nonchalant attitude of community members toward the reforms, among others.
“These necessitated the need for a community engagement framework that will ensure problem-solving, conflict resolution and compliance to the implementation guidelines of the LGC reforms,” he said.
Mr Abel Adejo of PERL urged the state government to scale up the Community Engagement Framework and Accountability Mechanism to the remaining 13 local government areas in the state.
According to him, the initiative would enable citizens to actively engage the governance process and demand for quality service delivery.
The Chairman of Soba Council, Mr Mohammed Aliyu, who is the state Chairman of the Association of Local Government of Nigeria (ALGON), thanked PERL and the civil society organisations partners for the support.
Aliyu described the initiative as “critical” to ensuring citizen participation in governance which in the long run would improved the quality of service delivery.
He assured the commitment of the local government chairmen to sustain the mechanism.