By JACOB ONJEWU DICKSON
The annual budgets prepared by governments is one of the most critical aspects of governance and a law that is only second to the constitution of a country.
Speaking on Understanding Budget, Equitable Budgeting and Advocacy Entry Points in the 2024 Budget Process, at a two-day session in Zaria, organised by #OpenGov Youth Innovation Hub with support from Partnership To Engage, Reform, Learn (PERL), on Friday December 1, 2023. Head of Leadership, Governance and Advocacy Coalition of Associations for Leadership, Peace, Empowerment and Development (CALPED), Yusuf Ishaku Goje described the budget as a very important document, next to only the constitution.
“Most businesses depend on the budget to survive. Most civil servants, survive on things purchased on debt, paying at month end. Hence they depend on budget, because if the salaries are not paid, those who collect items, cannot pay.
“Just as you cannot stay without breathing, government cannot stay without budget. Anything you will do in the government, requires the budget.
“In budgeting, priority is accorded the most important needs. In budgeting there must be revenue and there must be expenditure. Government generates revenue and spends on its priority. For Kaduna State Government, they have to budget for 10 million people, unlike an individual budget,” he said.
He explained that although most people place more emphasis on output of budget in Nigeria, however, development means the reduction in problems like reduction in maternal mortality and others.
“Government generates revenue through IGR, fines, loans, which is ways to finance budget. Loans are not bad, it depends on how it is used. If the loan is not applied the right way, then the loans will go down the drain,” he explained.
He added that, when the money is gathered, they then look at priorities and spread them between recurrent and capital expenditure.
“As you are seated here, you are advocates of millions who don’t have a voice, hence the need to engage and influence development to your areas,” he told the youth.
He told them that as civil society, they are obliged to find out if the government is actually spending on what they were budgeted for.
In his presentation titled, “Leveraging Civic-Tech to increase Youth Participation in Budget and Service Delivery Process” , Emmanuel Odeh Adikpe of IHIFIX Technology, said that digital platform is an amplifier to showcase what people can do.
He explained that the gap between governance and civil society is civic-tech. There are lots of opportunities you can derive from civic-tech.
“Just with a tweet, you can amplify something. You don’t need to go to government house, government house will come to you. You are not here to be shown how to attack government, but to ensure there is service delivery,” he said.
He explained that historically, there has been a lack of active involvement among young individuals in governance.
“Civic-tech is the interaction of technology and civic engagement. It encompasses a range of digital tools and platforms designed to enhance citizen participation in government processes.
“Civic-tech includes mobile applications, social media platforms, open data initiatives and visualization tools that enable easy and faster reach of target audience,” he added.
According to him, best practices for civic-tech include, user-centric design, training and support and data privacy and security.
“Success indicators you should lok out for include, increased participation, policy impact, while challenges include, digital divide and sustainability,” he informed.