By Philip Yatai

The Partnership to Engage, Reform and Learn (PERL), on Friday urged Civil Society Organisation and media to track the implementation of the 2022 Kaduna State budget.

Mr Adejor Abel, State Lead Facilitator, of PERL, a governance programme being funded by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) made the call in Kaduna.

He said at a one-day reflection session and postmortem of the 2022 approved budget with various accountability mechanisms in the state that collaboration and partnership was key to making significant influence on the budget.

He said that PERL supported the postmortem of the 2022 for the accountability mechanisms to assess the level of citizens influence on the budget following the recommendations submitted to the State Assembly.

He stressed the need for the citizens under the Open Government Partnership (OGP) to appreciate the leadership of the State Assembly for considering citizens’ inputs into the budget.

This, according to him, will strengthen citizens’ partnership with the lawmakers and open more doors for collaboration with the legislative to deliver quality services through the budget.

“But also important is effective tracking of the budget implementation to ensure timely release and cash backing of allocated funds and promote transparency and accountability,” he said.

On her part, Citizens Co-Chair, OGP, Mrs Hadiza Umar, commended PERL for supporting citizens to influence the 2022 approved budget, describing it as a great service to citizens of Kaduna State.

Umar also stressed the need for stronger collaboration among CSOs and the government through qualitative engagement that would benefit citizens of the state.

She said that the OGP would continue to work with PERL and other development partners to provide the needed platform for citizens to engage the governance process for improved service delivery.

Also speaking, Mr Joshua James Citizens Co-Chair, Open Budgeting Technical Working Group of the OGP, said that the objective of the meeting was to assess citizens’ influence on the 2022 budget and harmonise the influence for further engagement with the State Assembly.

James added that the meeting was also organised to enhance civil society and media partners capacity to effectively engage the government with findings from the budget postmortem.

“It will also help us generate next steps and strategies for tracking the 2022 budget implementation as well as advocacy to improve releases and cash backing of allocated funds.

Speaking on citizens’ influence to the Local Government budget, Mr Yusuf Goje of Local Government Accountability Mechanism (LGAM) commended the leadership of the State Assembly and Planning and Budget Commission for keeping to their commitments.

Goje explained that the executive and the legislative arm had made a commitment at the public hearing on the 2022 budget that civil society recommendations would be considered and factored into the 2022 budget. 

He disclosed that the LGAM recommendation that the allocation of N398.6 million for rural feeder road projects should be increased to at least N1 billion was considered as indicated in the approved budget.

“Also, our recommendation that the N109.3 million allocated as contribution should be increased by at least 100 per cent was equally considered and the amount was increased to N298.4 million in the approved budget.

“Similarly, LGAM had recommended an allocation of between N90 million and N100 million for the coronation of new emirs and chiefs and N100 million was allocated,” he said.

He, however, said that three recommendations were not considered, one of which was the request that the N42.95 million for rural electrification should be increased to the N71.6 million submitted by the ministry.

“That request that the N154 million allocated for the purchase and installation of transformers be increased to the N256.7 million initially submitted by the ministry was not considered.

“Also turned down was the recommendation that the N195.6 allocated for Kauru Special Intervention on Rural Electrification Projects be increased to the initial amount of N326.1 million proposed by the ministry,” he said.  

Goje said that LGAM would lobby members of the Liquidity Management Committee to ensure timely and adequate releases/cash-backing of allocated funds and work with the Ministry for Local Government on the implementation of the budget.

He added that the mechanism would also develop a tracking tool to provide quarterly updates to the government on the status of implementation and follow up with the Planning and Budget Commission on the 2022 Community Development Charter (CDC).

He suggested that the relevant CDC nominated projects should be considered in the utilisation of the N1 billion allocated for the rural feeder roads project