LG accountability mechanism urges Kaduna Govt to release N152.4m grant for LG accountability programme

Some Civil Society Organisations have appealed to the Kaduna State Government to release the N152.4 million approved as grant for Local Government Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (LFTAS) programme.

The CSOs, under the Local Government Accountability Mechanism (LGAM), made the appeal at a news conference held in Kaduna on Monday.

They were represented by Mr Yusuf Goje of the Coalition of Associations for Leadership, Peace, Empowerment and Development and Mr Godwin Akau, Community Development Charter Champion.

Others were Mr Abdul Usman, President, Campaign for Democracy and Mr Sumayya Hussaini of LGAM, Igabi LG.

Goje, who read the statement on behalf of the CSOs, explained that the amount was approved in 2019 for the payment of 2018 performance assessment of the LFTAS programme across the 23 Local Government Areas (LGAs) of the state.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the LFTAS initiative was introduced by the Kaduna State Government to entrench fiscal discipline, sustainability and quality service delivery at LG level.

The Government had set aside N20 million as incentives for each of the LGAs but tied it to performance indicators before disbursement.

This was in line with the World Bank supported State Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) Programme for Result.

He said that CSOs were engaged by the Planning and Budget Commission and the Ministry of Local Government Affairs in the assessment and validation of the 2018 performance in the spirit of Open Government Partnership (OGP).

He added that the State government further contracted PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to reassess the performance with appropriate amounts allocated to each LGA amounting to N152.4 million.

“But the amount has not been released, nine months after the approval of the grants by the State Executive Council,” he said.

Goje also said that budgetary allocations were equally made for the LFTAS programme in 2019, 2020 and 2021 but the funds had yet to be released to the LGA.

“This reform programme has so far increased the level of transparency, accountability, and citizens’ engagement in many of the LGAs.

“As a result, more citizens’ inputs are now informing the annual budgets at the local government level through the Community Development Charter (CDC) that prioritises the needs of communities.

“Also, the Local Government Councils now hold annual budget town-hall meetings with stakeholders, with a few developed official websites, while some have established procurement units among others,” they said.

He pointed out that the non-release and cash-backing of such releases had remained a huge challenge to the sustainability of the programme following its laudable impact.

He recalled that the State Government had benefited from the SFTAS performance grant from the World Bank worth 24.1 million dollars (N8.9 billion) between 2018 and 2019.

According to him, the Local Government Councils are also looking forward to such benefits under LFTAS, considering the revenue crunch evident in the LGAs and dwindling Federation Accounts allocations.

“But evidently, the sustainability of this laudable programme is challenged by non-release of funds and the inability of the 

State government to assess performance of the LGAs in 2019 and 2020, with 2021 almost coming to an end.

“It is our sincere hope that Gov. Nasir El-Rufai will heed to our plea and ensure timely release and cash-backing of the approved LFTAS grants to the 23 LGAs.” (NAN)

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