IPC partners LASG for improved citizens’ participation in budget implementation.

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By Segun Bambo Ojomo.

With a major aim of drawing the attention of the Lagos State Government to the need for the advancement of citizens’ participation in budget implementation and contributing to the process of co-option of the people, the International Press Centre, Lagos recently held a stakeholders’ conference in Lagos.

The conference was tagged “Advancing Citizens’ Participation in Budget Implementation of Lagos State”, and supported by UKAID of DFID and Action Aid under the Strengthening Citizens’ Engagement in Electoral Process(SCEEP).

Paticipants at the one-day event included resource persons, government officials especially at the local council level, legislators and media personnel.

The Chair, HEDA Resource Centre, Mr Olanrewaju Suraju in his paper titled “Open and participatory budget, the need for a citizens’ driven budget”, emphasised the dire need for the empowerment of the citizenry in budgetary planning and implementation.

“There can be no popular government and budget without the engagement of the citizenry. Engagement is thus both a right and responsibility of citizens in the conception, preparation, consideration, approval, appropriation, implementation and evaluation of budget. The choices to reduce, maintain, or even increase spending on the whole range of services should also be a reservation of the citizenry”, he said.

Publisher, Uhuru Times and Chief Press Secretary to former Governor Gbenga Daniel, Mr Wale Adedayo in his paper titled “Beyond the figures: transforming budget into development-an insider’s  view”  explained how the erstwhile Gbenga Daniel administration used the village square meetings phenomenon to reach out widely by meeting with the people at their habitats to feel the impacts of their sufferings, with such personal experiences forming guidelines for determination of immediate needs of the host communities.

The Head of Dept of Politics and IR, Lead City University, Dr.Tunde Oseni representing the Chairman of the occasion, Prof. Ayo Olukotun in his paper titled “Carrying the people along: Toward an inclusive and development- oriented budget in Lagos State”, also emphasised the importance of taking into cognisance the needs and will of the people in budgetary assignments.

“Beyond the facts and figures as well as the graphs and charts, it is important that budgets reflect the needs of the people and contain their   inputs. Budget that is based on taxpayers’ money should also reflect taxpayers’ will. The general conception in Nigeria is that budget is never open or transparent”, he said.

Mrs Folake Kuti, representing Dr Abiola Akiyode- Afolabi of Women Advocate, Research and Documentation Centre in her paper titled “Making a case for a Gendered  Budget”, passionately appealed for governments’ increased consideration of womenfolk in budgetary processes. Stressing the importance of gender equality in the process, she maintained that it was important to restructure revenue generation and spending to promote inclusion and gender equality.

Mr David Anyaele representing the Centre for Citizens With Disability in his speech titled “Budget making and PWDs: What’s missing?” stressed the importance of budgeting that takes into consideration the disabled who are often not seen as part of the society because of the erroneous thought that they are not in any way contributory to development. In his view, budgeting by government should take care of the needs of the disabled in order to enhance their contributions to society since a lot of people referred to as disabled are indeed more able than the considered able of the society in their chosen careers or endeavours.

Earlier in his welcome remarks at the occasion, Director, IPC Mr Lanre Arogundade said the purpose of the meeting was to further explore various channels by which citizens participation in budgetary process could be enhanced.

“This initiative is in consonance with the global interest of making government open and one way of achieving this is by allowing citizens to participate and have full access to the budget including its breakdown”, he said.

He expressed appreciation for the support of Action Aid and UKAID in providing the opportunity to implement the SCEEP project as well as the Lagos State Ministry of Budget and Planning for collaboration.

IPC is Nigeria’s foremost media capacity development organisation.

 

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