By KATO P. LADAN, Kaduna
As a follow up to the one-day dialogue organised by Coalition of Associations for Leadership, Peace, Empowerment & Development (CALPED) last week, the Chairman of Lere Local Government Area of Kaduna State, Abubakar Buba has paid a courtesy visit to the PERL-DFID Kaduna State team at ARC-PERL office domiciled in the Planning and Budget Commission at the Kaduna State Secretariat.
He was accompanied by his Personal Assistant, Shuiabu Suleiman, as well as CSOs representatives led by Madam Ladi M. Bonat, Coalition of Civil Society Organizations in Lere LG, and Yusuf I. Goje, Coalition of Associations for Leadership, Peace, Empowerment & Development (CALPED).
The delegation was received by the State Team Leader ECP-PERL, Abel Adejor, and ARC-PERL Lead Facilitator, Ashiru Sani, alongside other team members which included Mustapha Kurfi and Istifanus Akawu.
Abel Adejor welcomed specifically the Chairman and members of his delegation to PERL office, and went on to introduce his colleagues. He took out time to explain the goal of PERL and how it operates in Kaduna state.
In his remarks, Yusuf Goje of CALPED, thanked the Chairman for creating time out of his busy schedule to be part of the meeting and also appreciated PERL team for hosting the meeting on short notice.
He stated that it was in fulfilment of one of the resolutions reached at the CSOs/Citizens dialogue and strategy session recently held in Lere LG- to engage development partners to support both CSOs and government towards enhancing participatory governance and improved service delivery in Lere LG.
He further said that the responsiveness shown by the new administration in Lere LG is an opportunity the CSOs intend to fully take advantage of, and since PERL has been supporting them to add value to the governance process; it became imperative for a courtesy visit to be organized to cement areas of partnership especially as regards technical support.
According to him, of particular interest to CSOs in Lere LG is domesticating the co-creation principles of OGP and the Local Government Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability Program.
On his part, the local government Chairman, Abubakar Buba thanked PERL for hosting the meeting.
He then expressed his willingness to deliver good governance in Lere LG by working with CSOs and other partners.
He further stated that he is planning to hold at least two town-hall meetings before they finalize the 2019 budget at the local government.
He went straight to the point by listing out areas of challenge he will need support from PERL to address.
They include: low capacity of and apathy by staff towards government initiatives, weak synergy among the staff and his leadership, citizens engagement as it is one of his major priority, and increased women participation in his government.
In his response, the Lead Facilitator ARC-PERL, Ashiru Sani, welcomed the Chairman and expressed happiness for the meeting.
He stated that PERL is an adaptive program that is flexible depending on the partners they are engaging and needs.
He further explained that their support for LGAs so far is through the Planning and Budget Commission.
He listed a number of their support to include: development of Local Government Development Plan and Local Government Manual, 2018 Local Government Budget.
According to him, they are planning to train interested LGAs budget officers (three persons from each LGA) on the 2019 Budget.
He finally expressed their readiness to work with the Chairman and his administration in Lere LG.
In closing, Abel Adejor, State Team Leader, ECP-PERL, informed the Chairman and his delegation that they just trained community based monitors from the 23 LGA to support the tracking and monitoring of projects at the local government level.
He also stated that they are presently supporting the Open Government Partnership process in Kaduna state.
The meeting ended on a positive note with commitments from all the partners to collaborate.
Part of the resolutions adopted include that PERL-DFID remain committed to supporting the present administration in Lere to deliver on good governance.
“The Chairman committed to working closely with PERL-DFID and CSOs through out his tenure.
“CSOs committed to take advantage of all opportunities provided by the responsiveness of the new Chairman to strengthen citizens participation and improved service delivery in Lere LG.”
The Chairman will host a meeting with CSOs in Lere LG on the 27th July, 2018 to agree and articulate areas of support required to be forwarded to PERL, which will inform further action.
Areas of focus to be agreed and articulated include institutionalization of co-creation principles of the OGP, Organize budget town-hall meetings, Monitoring budget implementation (Citizens independent Monitoring & Evaluation of government projects in Lere LG) among others.