By EDDY OCHIGBO , Kaduna, North central, Nigeria.
The much needed headway towards institutionalizing a citizen-centered democratic governance culture in local government administration, is largely dependent on genuine commitment by decision-makers to adopt bottom-top approach to governance.
Chairman Lere Local Government Council of Kaduna state, Honorable Abubakar Buba, who made this known while speaking at the second edition of the Lere Local Government Budget Town Hall meeting in Saminaka, contended that the council is marching on steadily as a result of the will of the Almighty Allah and the far-reaching local government reforms being undertaken by the administration of Mallam Nasir El’rufai
“As a council, since we assumed office, we have ridden on these well thought out reforms to open up governance by strengthening mechanisms for effective citizens’ engagement, transparency, accountability and responsiveness. This is why we have keyed into the use of the Community Development Charter to generate and prioritize the needs of our people”, the chairman said, disclosing that the renewed approach gives the people the leeway to inform and influence the draft budget towards achieving the Local Government Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (LFTAS) program disbursement linked indicators.
He further revealed: “We have also commenced the process of domesticating the co-creation principles of the Open Government Partnership (OGP), which has provided us with structured and effective government-citizens relationship and decision making platform through the Technical Working Group (TWG) for open budget”.
While postulating that “we are not where we want to be but at least we are not where we used to be”, he expressed his gratitude to God and his supporters,maintaining that the council under his leadership has moved the wheels of good governance forward.
A leading civil society organization with bias for governance reforms, Coalition of Associations for Leadership, Peace, Empowerment & Development (CALPED), gave an overview of why budget town-hall meetings are absolutely necessary in creating periodic fora for effective citizens participation in the entire budget circle. Convener of the Coalition, Yusuf Goje stated: “The era where public servants sitting in their offices to determine the needs of citizens is over. Now the citizens have the mechanism to prioritize their needs through the community development charter. So also, the era of blindly criticizing the government is over, as there are now safe spaces like the budget town-hall meeting where we can constructively engage”.
Highlight of the town-hall meeting was the official inauguration of the Lere local government Technical Working Group on open budget, which has a membership of eight each drawn from the government and civil society partners, with Honorable Shuiabu A. Suleiman and Ladi M. Bonat as co-chair.