By KATO P. LADAN, Kaduna
The co-creation principles of the Open Government Partnership if replicated at the local government level will enhance citizens participation and ownership of local governance.
This was contained in a communique issued at the end of a one-day CSO/ Citizens Dialogue and Strategy Session on local government development plan and budget circle under the mobilizing citizens for OGP Kaduna commitment, held at the Lere LGA secretariat on Sunday, July 8, 2018.
“Furthermore, it will promote openness, transparency, accountability, responsiveness and improved service delivery,” it stated.
It explained that on the 8th July 2018, the Coalition of Associations for Leadership, Peace Empowerment & Development (CALPED) in partnership with the Coalition of Civil Society Organizations in Lere LGA and Network of Citizens in Governance organized a one day CSOs/Citizens dialogue and strategy session on Local Government Development Plan and Budget Circle under the Mobilizing Citizens for #OGPKaduna Commitment one project, held at the Lere LGA Secretariat Conference room.
It stated that the objectives of the session are:
Mobilize, engage and deepen the understanding of active citizens on the Local Government Development Plan, Budget circle and Local Government Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability Program; explore citizens engagement approaches for effective participation in the governance process tailored to the peculiarities of Lere LGA; Generate strategies and action plan for continuous engagement with the governance process.
“There were three paper presentations which are: Understanding the Local Government Development Plan and Opportunities for Good Governance in Lere LGA; Understanding the Budget Circle and Approaches for Citizens Engagement; and Understanding the Open Government Partnership with focus on #OGPKaduna Commitment One. The participatory learning approach was adopted during the interactive dialogue session and far-reaching resolutions were generated.
“The session had 19 community based groups represented and in total 39 participants were in attendance from all the 11 wards of Lere LGA, out of which 10 were women. Also in attendance are the representative of the National Orientation Agency and the Youth Development Officer, Lere local government.”
The dialogue observed that the signing of the Open Government Partnership by the Kaduna state government is a welcome development that should be commended; as it is the right step in the right direction in opening up spaces and platforms for increased citizens engagement in the governance process in the state as a whole.
“The development of the Local Government Development Plan for each local government area in the state is a welcome initiative and has provided entry points for citizens engagement in local governance.
“There is low citizens awareness about the Local Government Development Plan, its importance and opportunities for the development of the Local government.
“The introduction of the use of Community Development Charter to generate citizens needs into the local government budgeting process will ensure that service delivery is citizens-driven, which will ensure ownership and Sustainability of government projects and interventions.
“The initiative of the state government under the Local Government Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability Program will surely promote healthy competition among LGAs; as each local government area will strive to win the 20 million naira award price.
“Citizens that reside in far away local governments like Lere LGA are largely unaware of the Open Government Partnership and the benefits to be derived when fully implemented for them and the state at large.
“There is still high level of citizens distrust and suspicion of government leading to apathy in engaging the governance process especially the budget circle.
“While the Community Development Charter had citizens input, there is still widespread low awareness and weak participation during the process of generating it.
“There is weak capacity among citizens/CSO in Lere local government to engage the governance process especially the budget process.
“The newly elected leadership of Lere local government under the Chairmanship of Honorable Abubakar Buba has demonstrated so far their commitment to meaningfully engage and carry the citizens/CSO along in its governance process,” it expressed.
The session resolved that a delegation of the Coalition of Civil Society Groups in Lere local government will pay an advocacy visit to the Honorable Chairman to discuss the output of the dialogue session in order to deepen the government-CSOs partnership that the Chairman signed and committed to during the campaigns.
” Advocate for the convening of a town-hall meeting by the local government authority or initiate one (in the case of unfavorable response) to create awareness and revalidate the development plan and community development charters, as they were developed and generated before the coming of the present administration.
“Advocate for the adoption of the co-creation principles of the Open Government Partnership in Lere local government especially in the areas of Budget process, procurement, implementation and permanent dialogue mechanism as done at the state level. This should also apply to all the departments in the local government.
“Request for a letter of introduction by the Chairman to give recognition to the Coalition when tracking and monitoring budget implementation.
“Work closely with the present administration in Lere LGA to ensure that we deepen transparency and accountability, and also to win the award price of 20million naira under the state government initiative – Local Government Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability Program.
“Partner with development partners and donor agencies to support and strengthen our engagements in enhancing transparency, accountability and government responsiveness in Lere LGA.
“To restructure the Coalition to be more inclusive, participatory and transparent in engaging the governance process.
“Each participating Community Based group will step down the information gotten through sensitization at their various communities,” it said.
The session was a display of the readiness and commitment of CSOs/citizens in Lere local government area to take advantage of the present Lere LG administration’s openness among other entry points available to effectively engage the governance process.
It was jointly signed by Michael Bala, Kahugu Youth Association, David Ezekiel, Federated Akurmi Youth Association, Babangida Garba, Lere Youth Forum, Ladi Makama, Coalition of Civil Society Lere LGA and Yusuf I Goje, Coalition of Associations for Leadership, Peace, Empowerment & Development (CALPED)