By Yusuf Ishaku Goje
Regardless of the good intention – anything for us, without us, cannot be for us.
I have been wondering if the Open Government Partnership (OGP) commitment one (Open Budget) covers supplementary budgets in Kaduna state..
The proposed supplementary budget of 81.68bn before the Kaduna State House of Assembly (KSHoA) is about 51.8% of the total 2019 approved budget of N157.45bn; which when passed will take the budget for the year to about N230bn. This is said to be from the World Bank loan approved for Kaduna state.
While I have no personal issue with the loan, because it has a clause that makes it non-discretional (tied to projects) and we are ready as civil society to track its utilization. However, over the past three years, even with the OGP in place, we have been having supplementary budgets passed without citizen’s engagement and inputs, more so, without their initial knowledge. We usually become aware of it just before or after KSHoA passes it into law.
Does that mean that the role of the Civil society as ‘co-creators’ in OGP commitment one is just superficial when it comes to supplementary budgets?
Are we expected to be a rubber stamp Civil Society co-partners? Due to the fear of being victimized for calling the government to account?
Are we expected to defend what we are not part of? Factoring the IRM assessment of the OGP State Action Plan implementation, when it takes place.
Or are we expected to just fall in line, while we make the rest of the world believe all is well? While those we represent, the wider citizens, think otherwise.
For God’s sake, as civil society on the OGP platform, we represent the people; and it is expected that we should amplify their issues and protect their interest through the OGP, and not become satisfied and elitist just because we have access to the government.
What is worth doing, is worth doing well. The OGP commitment on Open Budget says – “ensure more effective citizen’s participation in the entire budget cycle”. Can we really say, between God and man, that this is the case with the present reality of the supplementary budget before the KSHoA?
OGP stands on the pillars of transparency, accountability and citizen’s engagement; therefore, all government actions should be measured on the foregoing.
This supplementary budget is a true test of government’s sincerity and commitment to the principles of OGP, and that of the willingness of the civil society co-partners to represent the interest of the wider citizens. We are not just part of the OGP to support the government to score international recognition or favors but to ensure improvement in the quality/quantity of public service delivery and enhance the living standard of the people.
Where the government has done well we must commend and encourage them; so also, where they have fallen short we are duty bound to call them to order and correct them.
My conscience has spoken.
Yusuf Ishaku Goje
Technical Working Group Commitment one on Open Budget,