By Philip Yatai
The Kaduna State Government has disbursed N152.4 million to 23 Local Government Councils (LGCs) of the state as performance grant for its Local Government Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (LFTAS) programme.
The Commissioner for Planning and Budget Commission, Muhammad Sani Dattijo, disbursed the grants in Kaduna on Thursday after the 14th Economic Planning Board Meeting, which he chaired.
Dattijo said that the programme was introduced by the Kaduna State Executive Council in 2018 as a reform initiative designed to strengthen fiscal performance and sustainability at the local government level.
“The programme was also designed to strengthen inter-governmental fiscal coordination by supporting good practice on fiscal behaviour and standards across the local government councils.
“It will equally reduce fiscal risk to the state government in the long run, help in efficient implementation of development plans, policies and increase community participation in governance,” he said.
He said the programme focused on five thematic areas as Disbursement Link Indicators (DLIs), namely budget preparation process, adherence to policy documents and strengthened internally generated revenue.
Others are improvement in public procurement systems, reduction in payroll fraud and tackling absenteeism and nonchalant attitude of primary school teachers and health personnel.
The commissioner said that a local government council could get up to N20 million based on their performance in line with the DLIs.
He said that after verification of the LGCs performance by an independent agent, PricewaterhouseCoopers, three councils, namely Zaria, Jema’a and Kaduna South emerged the best performing councils.
He said the LGCs got the FTAS incentives of N9.94 million, N9.27 million, and N9.26 million respectively, while the remaining LGAs got between N3.49 million and N8.75 million.
Dattijo said that based on the impressive performance in the first phase, government would consider increasing the incentive to between N100 million and N200 million in future.
He, however, said that the increment would be subject to the improved performance of the LGCs in entrenching fiscal transparency, accountability and sustainability in council’s administration.
The Citizen’s Co-Chair, Open Government Partnership (OGP), Mrs Hadiza Umar, commended the Planning and Budget Commission for the effort to strengthen transparency and accountability in local government administration.
Umar, represented by Mr Muhammad Kassim, Citizens Co-Chair, Open Contracting, said that OGP would continue to support all reforms geared towards improving transparency and citizens engagement in governance.
Mr Yusuf Goje of Coalition of Associations for Leadership, Peace, Empowerment and Development, also lauded the government for disbursing the grant after several years.
Goje said that being part of the process, the civil society would continue to collaborate with the government for the sustainability of the programme, having seen its benefits to the people at the grassroots.
He recommended timely disbursement of the grant to sustain the momentum and urged council chairmen to make best use of it
He gave assurance that the civil society would track the utilisation of the funds by the benefitting councils.
The state Chairman, Association of Local Governments of Nigeria, Mr Abubakar Buba, thanked Gov. Nasir El-Rufa’i for the initiative.
Buba pledged to sustain the efforts and ensure the programme was extended to the ward level.
The Chairman of Zaria Local Government Council, Aliyu Ibrahim, said the council emerged best because of his administration’s commitment to serve the people.
Ibrahim, represented by the Vice Chairman, Idris Yusuf, said that the N9.94 million received by the council would be used to improve the quality of healthcare and education services in the local government area.
wow, this is impressive, I pray it will go a long way to developing our local government areas