By Philip Yatai

The Kaduna State Fiscal Responsibility Commission on Wednesday pledged to work with Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to promote fiscal transparency and accountability in the state.

The commission’s Chairman, Murtala Dabo made the pledge in Kaduna at a virtual event to commemorate Open Government Partnership (OGP) at 10.

The event was organised by the Coalition of Associations for Leadership, Peace, Empowerment and Development (CALPED), in collaboration with the commission with the theme, “Strengthening Civic Space and Public Participation in the Budget Process in Kaduna State”.

Dabo said fiscal transparency was all about the disclosure of all the assets and liabilities of the public sector, as well as revenues and expenditures approved in the annual budget.

According to him, fiscal transparency also refers to the involvement of citizens in fiscal policy design and decision making.

He said that the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007 provided for the prudent management of the nation’s resources.

This, he said, was to ensure long term macro-economic stability of the national economy, secure greater accountability and transparency in fiscal operations within a medium term.

Dabo said that the commission has developed its work plan for 2022 to ensure it carried out its mandate effectively despite funding constraints.

He noted the need to partner with CSOs and relevant stakeholders with a view to enhancing fiscal transparency and responsibility.

According to him, all stakeholders are expected to play crucial roles in promoting fiscal transparency and accountability in the state.

“Citizens, civil societies, law enforcement agencies, the media and other stakeholders are increasingly required to give an honest account of their fiscal dealings with civil servants, public officials and government agencies.”

Mr Abel Adejor, State Team Facilitator, Partnership to Engage, Reform and Learn, said that the state government has signed onto the OGP since 2016 to promote fiscal responsibility, access to information and citizens’ engagement.

Adejor noted that a reasonable number of public servants still do not understand the principle of OGP and the State Action Plan.

He stressed the need to sensitise relevant heads of MDAs about OGP and involve more citizens’ groups such as the Community Development Champions in monitoring government projects.

Mr Austin Ashio, OGP Point of Contact, Planning and Budget Commission said that the OGP Secretariat, in partnership with CSOs, would ensure the institutionalisation of Community Development Charter (CDC) and budget town hall meetings.

Ashio also said that efforts were ongoing to review the State Budget Guidelines to ensure that CDC fosters robust public participation.

The Citizen’s Co-Chair, OGP, Mrs Hadiza Umar, also said that the OGP was working to boost advocacy and sensitisation of civil society and government actors at all levels on the OGP State Action Plan.

She urged the civil society actors not to only demand for increased civic space but also to ensure they take advantage of existing space to participate in ongoing OGP reforms under the five commitment areas.

Earlier, Mr Yusuf Goje of CALPED, said that the objective of the meeting was to provide local perspective to the ongoing conversation on the 2021 OGP Global Summit, which was held between Dec. 15 and 17.

Goje said that the meeting also provided an avenue for partners to share ideas and perspectives on strengthening fiscal responsibility and open civic space for public participation in the budget process in Kaduna State.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the 2021 OPG Summit had three thematic areas – strengthening civic space and public participation, tackling corruption, and promoting inclusive digital innovation.