From Paul Orude, Bauchi
A nongovernmental organisation, Centre for Information Technology and Development, CITAD, has trained Community Based Organisations (CBOs) and Civil Societies Organisations (CSOs) in Bauchi State on budget tracking for Improved citizens participation in governance.
The one – day training, conducted with support from USAID through State2state, drew participants from six local governments Alkaleri, Bauchi, Katagum Misau, Ningi and Toro
Senior Programme Officer of CITAD,
Isa Garba, disclosed that the objectives include enhancing the capacity of CITAD partners to effectively participate in governance, and coming up with ways CSOs and CBOs can participate in the governance process of the state.
In his opening remarks, Executive Director of CITAD, Y. Z.Ya’u, welcomed all the CBOs and CSOs partners to the training.
Ya’u hoped the participants would use the knowledge acquired to improve governance process of the state.
He assured that CITAD would continue to support them in the process of their engagement and especially in area of technical support needed in the process of their participations in governance and engagement with public officers in the state.
Garba in a paper entitled “Improving Citizens’ Participation in Governance,” noted that citizens participation in governance has increased over the years from the military era, which attempted to carry out some forms of public engagement to a more robust engagement with the return to democracy in 1999 and more improvement at the state level in recent years.
According to the paper, the Nigerian civil society has made efforts to create and expand the space for citizens participation in governance as the follow up to the pro-democracy movement.
It stressed that citizens’ participation in governance was based on the democratic principle of the rights of individuals and citizens to participate in taking decisions that affect them.
“There are constitutional and legal frameworks or provisions for citizens participation in governance while the UN Declaration of Human Rights recognises the rights of every citizen to participate in taking decisions affecting them,” the paper pointed out.
Participants learnt that forms of participation in Nigeria include support to candidates and parties, voting during elections, periodic briefings among others.
The CBOs and the CSOs were therefore encouraged to identify stakeholders and establish working groups as well as carry out design and implementation to involve more people in their communities to participate in decision making.
The second paper on Budget Tracking, which was presented by John Otaro, harped on the importance of budget tracking by stakeholders.
The paper informed that budget tracking must provide constant feedback of budget implementation, enhanced accountability, incorporate views and promote participation.
It pointed out that budget tracking promotes development, makes evaluation easier and provides guidelines for planning future projects.
A communique issued at the end of the meeting, signed by Paul Orude of The Sun and Ahmed Kaigama of the News Agency of Nigeria respectively, disclosed that participants shared their various experiences of application of previous trainings in their various communities
Some of these experiences, the communique stated, include being able to organise members of the communities to track budgets, revive and complete abandoned projects.
The CBOs and CSOs partners, it added, made other observations during the training which included the need for improved synergy between CSOs and CBOs working on budget processes.
It was also observed that those receiving support from state2state and other donor agencies should strengthen citizens voices and engagement in the sector for effective outcome and impact.
The participants, the communique said further, observed that some CBOs and CSOs formed or managed by civil servants were limitee to the level of their engagement for fear of been victimised in case they put pressure on the government.
“Therefore, in such cases, civil servants in the sector should allow non public officers to take lead during such engagements,” it noted.
For easy engagement, there is need for zonal network of CBOs to engage in the governance process and it will be good if BASNEC can take care of that)
CBOs and CSOs were urged to send more Freedom of Information Act (FOI Act) requests, to stimulate public officers to understand the Act and prepare for proactive disclosure and free flow of information, it conluded.