In a renewed move to take governance closer to the grassroots, all the 23 Local Government Councils of Kaduna state are being assessed on the basis of adherence to policy documents, budget planning and preparation process predicated on increasing internally generated revenue (IGR), improved public procurement system and reduced payroll fraud, tracking of absenteeism of primary school teachers and health personnel and the essence of abiding by guidelines of the state to engender transparency and accountability.
Deputy Director Planning in the state’s Budget and Planning Commission, Badamasi Musa who led the Budget Assessment team to the Kaduna North Local Government Council of the state during the week, said the move became necessary to give the rural poor a sense of belonging.
While explaining that the Local Government Fiscal Transparency Accountability and Sustainability(LFTAS) program was a governance reform initiative of the state being facilitated by the commission and in collaboration with the Ministry of Local Government Affairs to deepen accountability and transparency in the state, Musa pointed out that the ultimate goal was to improve and consolidate service delivery in local governance.
“LFTAS has five thematic areas of focus as follows: adherence to policy documents; budget preparation process; increased internally generated revenue(IGR); improve public procurement system tracking absenteeism of primary school teachers and health personnel”, Musa disclosed, adding that the initiative “has 24 success factors which will be used to assess and evaluate all the local government councils with a financial reward of twenty million naira to those local councils that are able to achieve all the success factors as the case may be.
In his remarks, the Chairman of Kaduna North Local Council, Alhaji Sale Shauibu expressed delight over the initiative and assured the budget assessment team of his council’s cooperation to ensure that the laudable program of the Governor Nasir el-Rufai-led administration was successfully implemented.
The Commission in her bid to ensure citizens’ participation in the process had requested the civil society to be part of the assessment visits in each of the local government, thereby mobilizing one civil society focal person in each of the local governments to be supported by the state civil society team for effective and result-driven participation.
On his part, Yusuf Goje, Head, Governance and Advocacy of Coalition of Associations for Leadership, Peace, Empowerment & Development (CALPED) expressed the readiness of Civil Society to effectively participate and support the LFTAS program in the spirit of Open Government Partnership (OGP).
“Civil society engagement has now changed from confrontation to collaboration towards improved qualitative service delivery and good governance”, Goje stressed, calling on the civil society to take advantage of the LFTAS program initiated by the government to effectively engage and demand for Fiscal transparency, accountability, responsiveness and improved quality of service delivery at the grassroots.
Meanwhile, Kaduna North’s Director of Budget, Mr Andrew Swat along with his deputy, Rabiu Isyaku assured the assessment team that the Budget department of the council was in good stead to clinch the prize money at stake in view of the council’s “track record of promoting transparency and accountability in the scheme of things”