By Philip Yatai

The Kaduna State Government and the Kaduna Social Protection Accountability Coalition (KADSPAC) on Thursday partnered to strengthen transparency and accountability in delivery of social protection programmes for the poor and vulnerable.

They made the pledge in Kaduna, during a one-day Roundtable Parley on Strengthening Transparency and Accountability in the Social Protection System through the Open Government Partnership (OGP).

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the meeting was organised by KADSPAC, in collaboration with OGP Technical Working Group (TWG) on Social Protection, supported by Save the Children International (SCI).

The Commissioner for Planning and Budget Commission (PBC), Hajiya Ummi Aboki, said that the OGP was a valuable platform through which the citizens engaged the governance process.

Aboki, who is the Government Co-chair of the OGP, said the quality of engagement of the governance processes by citizens groups over the years had improved the quality of governance in the state.

Represented by the OGP Point of Contact, Mr Tara Jerimiah, the commissioner said that working with citizens groups under the OGP structure would ensure the needed transparency and accountability in the social protection space.

“We have opened our doors to work with citizens in the design and implementation of programmes and policies with a view to promoting transparency and accountability in line with the principle of the OGP.

“We shall continue on this path in the delivery of social protection programmes that seek to lift the poor and vulnerable in our dear state out of poverty,” she said.

The Chairperson, KADSPAC, Jessica Bartholomew, stressed the need for healthy working synergy among all the social protection stakeholders in the state for maximum results.

This, according to her, will ensure that reasonable number of the poor and vulnerable are reached with social protection interventions by the government, development partners, private sector and other stakeholders.

“As an accountability coalition, we have been at the forefront of tracking social protection programmes, to ensure that the programmes are not only inclusive but delivered in a transparent manner.

“There is the need, therefore, for stronger working synergy among social protection implementation Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) for us to make progress in lifting people out of poverty.”

Also, the Citizens’ Co-chair, OGP, Mrs Hadiza Umar, commended the state government for opening its doors for citizens to engage the governance process.

Umar, who was represented by the Secretary, Civil Society Steering Committee of the OGP, Mr Joshua James, however, said that more needed to be done to strengthen transparency and accountability.

Earlier, the Citizens’ co-chair, OGP TWG on Social Protection, Mr Philip Yatai, said the state government had committed to strengthen its social protection systems using the OGP structure.

Yatai said that in the OGP State Action Plan, 2021 to 2023, the government had pledged to work with citizens to achieve the milestones outlined in the plan for every resident to live a life of dignity.

Similarly, the Government Co-chair of the TWG, Mrs Saude Atoyebi, said that working with KADSPAC and other civil society organisations had been very fruitful over the years.

Atoyebi, who is the Focal Person, Kaduna State Social Investment Office, pledged to deepen engagement of organised citizens working in the social protection space, towards the delivery of inclusive social protection programmes.

Represented by Mrs Rebecca Pandonu, Special Assistant to Gov. Nasir El-Rufai on Social Investment, the co-chair said that social protection implementing MDAs would continue to partner with citizens groups for transparency.

Also, Mr Adejor Abel, State Lead facilitator, Partnership to Engage, Reform and Learn (PERL), a governance programme, called for the audit of the State Social Register to ensure data quality.

Abel also called on the MDAs to engage community structures like the Local Government Accountability Mechanism, Community Development Charter Champions, and other groups, to deepen citizens’ engagement at grassroots.

Mrs Murjanatu Kabir, Advocacy and Communication Coordinator, SCI, said that the organisation would continue to support transparent delivery of inclusive social protection programmes under its Expanding Social Protection for Inclusive Development project.

NAN reports that participants at the meeting included representatives of social protection implementing MDAs, civil society organisations and development partners.