By Philip Yatai

The Kaduna Local Government Accountability Mechanism (LGAM) has urged the Kaduna State Assembly to create a specific budget for Community Development Chatter (CDC) in the 2023 proposed budget.

Mr Luke Seth spoke on behalf of the mechanism in Kaduna, during a public hearing organised by the State Assembly on the 2023 proposed budget of N370.3 billion before it for consideration.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the CDC is a participatory budgeting process and social accountability tool that enables communities to prioritise and nominate developmental projects.

NAN reports that the public hearing was supported by the Partnership to Engage, Reform and Learn (PERL), a governance programme of the United Kingdom Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.

Seth specifically appealed to the lawmakers to allocate 50 per cent of allocations for projects in the Ministry for Local Government to fund CDC especially under rural electrification, feeder roads, purchase, and installation of transformers.

He stressed the need to consider capturing more citizens’ nominated needs to ensure inclusive development across the state.

He explained that CDCs were used to prioritize the needs of communities to inform the local government and state budgets.

He added that 20 of the 23 LGAs in the state have submitted CDCs demand through the Planning and Budget Commission for consideration in the 2023 budget.

Seth said that the prioritised needs cut across the health, education, Water, sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) and infrastructure such as feeder roads and rural electrification.

According to him, the citizens prioritise needs provides the state government a pool of projects to inform its budget.

“We also want the State Assembly to consider increasing the Ministry for Local Government allocation for rural feeder roads and allocate funds for Kauru Special Intervention on Rural Electrification projects.

“LGAM equally wants increased allocation for the construction, installation, and contract management of 50 hand pump boreholes in rural areas, as well as purchase of transformers for rural electrification.

“These budget lines are people-centred because they will provide essential social amenities and boost rural economies.

“This will result in employment generation, poverty reduction, thereby, narrowing inequality gap and check insecurity, in line with the ‘Putting People First’ mantra of the state government.”

Seth pointed out that the budgetary allocation to the ministry compared to the total state budget has been below one percent from 2019 to 2021, with the highest being the 2022 revised budget at 1.27 per cent.

He explained that the ministry budget increased from N603.4 million in 2019 representing 0.3 per cent of the N157.4 billion total budget to N3.9 billion in 2022 representing 1.2 per cent of the N303.9 revised budget.

He urged the State Assembly to consider increasing funding to the ministry considering its strategic role in poverty reduction and community development.

Responding, the Deputy speaker, Mr Isaac Auta, who presided over the hearing, thanked the group for the observations and recommendations, stressing that they would be looked into.

Auta urged the accountability mechanism to continue to support the ministry to strengthen citizens’ engagement of the governance process at the community level. (NAN)