NOW THAT THE KADUNA STATE 2022 DRAFT BUDGET HAS BEEN MADE AVAILABLE, WHAT NEXT?

By YUSUF ISHAKU GOJE

The hallmark of good governance is active citizens’ participation and government responsiveness. Reasons being that it enables and improves transparency, accountability, rule of law, consensus, efficiency and effectiveness, equitable and inclusive governance. This is hinged on the quality of engagement between the demand (people) and supply (public servant) side.

Recently, a glimpse of such engagement was demonstrated in the aftermath of the advocacy calls by civil society partners for a town-hall to effectively engage the government on the Kaduna State 2022 Draft Budget. The citizens’ participated and engaged, and the state government responded with plans ongoing to hold a budget town-hall meeting.

The calls – which emanated from Open Government Partnership (OGP) Kaduna State Steering Committee citizens’ representatives, civil society organizations, individuals and development partners – were reactions to the surprising presentation of the 2022 proposed budget, by the Executive Governor, to the State House of Assembly without the usual town-hall meeting with stakeholders – a norm that has become consistent for the past six years.

Thankfully, the state government has responded positively by opening up channels of dialogue with the citizens’ representatives on the State Steering Committee of the OGP – on how to hold the 2022 budget town-hall meeting to get robust feedback from interested stakeholders.

If this is successfully done, despite the initial skipping of established process, the state government will score points especially on open budget and citizens’ engagement. This will further amplify its commitment to the principles of OGP and State Fiscal Transparency, Accountability & Sustainability (SFTAS) program.

Now that the ball has been thrown at citizens’ groups, the draft budget has been made available, it is time to justify the state government’s decision to engage us in the budget formulation process. We need to demonstrate that beyond the rhetorics of advocacy, we have the capacity to add value to the budget formulation process. That is we need to not only complain or criticize budget allocations but make meaningful suggestions on revenue generation and how to improve service delivery.

No government can succeed until and unless the demand (people) and supply (public servants) side of government become conscious of their individual and collective responsibilities towards ensuring good governance. Hence, the need for us to effectively engage the budget formulation process focusing on how realistic is it, priority allocations, distribution, inclusiveness, equity and linkage to achieving the target outcome results in the State Development Plan (SDP,2021-2025).

In view of this, the state government needs to make the proposed budget available on its website/portals (www.kdsg.gov.ng and www.pbc.kadgov.ng) to allow for more people have access to it and effectively engage. This will ensure more awareness, and in some case ownership of the 2022 proposed budget by the residents of the state.

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

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