*Says citizens must hold government accountable
By JACOB ONJEWU DICKSON
Advocate of good governance at local government level, Yusuf Goje has decried poor performance of budgets in rural and grassroots level, blaming the development for absence and dearth of critical infrastructure needed for socio-economic growth and prosperity.
Goje posited that meaningful social infrastructure could best be facilitated and delivered to target beneficiaries if policy makers worked in partnership with civil society organizations, the media and community development champions to identify areas of priorities and needs for people at the grassroots.
Goje, State facilitator for Kaduna Local Government Accountability Mechanism (KADLGAM) spoke at a roundtable parley yesterday, with media practitioners, civil societies and other stakeholders on strategic direction and priorities and ways to amplify citizens’ score cards so governments would know areas of lapses and shortfalls.
In his appraisal of budget performance in 23 local government areas of the state, Goje scored implementation low, particularly at the grassroots level, where he said the people are in dire need of key infrastructure to make life meaningful and enjoyable.
He added that out of 701 capital projects amounting to 2.2 billion Naira, out of 12.1 billion in the year under review, 179 were CDC initiated.
He harped on accountability, transparency, teamwork, innovation and citizens centric policies as principles he noted if adhered to could serve as guide for fast tracking growth and development through open government partnership at local level.
“We will not relent untill citizens at the grassroots understand the mechanism of governance and the need for them to actively participate in budget initiation, tracking and implementation through their community champions.
“Kaduna State as a signatory to Open Government Partnership has moved in the right direction in quest to carry citizens along in affairs of governance.
“It is our priority along side the media as an important stakeholders to ensure principles of OGP is stepped down to the grassroots level through proactive and constructive engagements with communities.
“Citizens must hold government accountable via the media as 4th Estate of the Realm whose functions and responsibilities are clearly spelt out in Section 22 of the constitution.
“We will put heads together and draw a media work plan capable of achieving our aims and objectives in the shortest time until communities get value for their money by delivering quality service to people at the grassroots,”he assured.
In a paper jointly presented by Seth Luke and Sumayya Abdul of KAD-LGAM, the duo mapped out areas of focus for governments to effectively reach grassroots dwellers to include; infrastructure and human capital development, peace building and conflict mitigation, reforms and environmental and climate change.
A key partner in the project of Accountable Governance Mr. Gabriel Adejor of PERL expressed optimism in progress made through civil society organizations, saying more and more citizens are now enlightened and could hold their governments responsible and accountable in efforts to enhance transparency and deliveries of value for money.
He however mentioned seeming secrecy, nonchalant attitudes in some government agencies and lack of awareness at grassroots as challenges hindering effective monitoring and tracking process by CDCs, saying the hiccups would be overcome with consistent strategic engagements amongst critical stakeholders.