By Sagiru Ado Abubakar
Participants from 18 communities in six local government areas of Kano State yesterday participated in the Quarterly Open Budget Forum organized by Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD). The purpose of the Quarterly Forum was to encourage SCEEP communities from Kabo, Karaye, Gaya, Rano, Nassarawa and Kano Municipal local governments to actively participate in the budget making processes. In his opening remarks, Dr. Aminu Aliyu of Economics Department, Bayero University, Kano noted that the quarterly forum was part of implementing the Strengthening Citizen’s Engagement in the Electoral Process, (SCEEP), project that aimed at strengthening electoral engagement of woman, youths and persons living with disability. He said that today’s event was part of CITAD effort to deepen budget literacy and enhance citizens and community participation in budget preparation and implementation. The forum was designed to further explore various channels through which the participation of citizens in the budget process can be enhanced. By so doing, the participants can be able to monitor and track the implementation of the 2017 budget in Kano State as well as to prepare them to participate in the 2018 budget processes. A full access to the budget by citizens will allow for a proper monitoring of the implementation of the budget especially at the community level and give citizens the chance to call the attention of the government to projects that are not implemented but were included in the budget. Dr. Aliyu added.
In the paper he presented titled ‘importance of Participatory Budgeting’, Malam Jibrin Aliyu, State Team Leader, Partnership to Engage, Reform and Learn (PERL), Kano explained that Community participation is the involvement of people in a community in projects/programs to solve their own problems, and it is key in all stages of project/program cycle NOT only few stages. He then outlined the following as key benefits of community participation:
- It increases project efficiency and effectiveness. Because consultation during project planning or beneficiary involvement in the management of project implementation or operation promotes efficiency and helps to ensure that the project achieves its objectives and that benefit go to the intended groups.
- It helps beneficiaries to work on the right issues (priority), share project cost (occasionally goods) and have ownership of the project that lead to better utilization.
- It also reduces conflict and distrust among community members as they are involved in decision making. The project or program can continue without any external support thus promoting self-reliance (sustainability). Then Communities are likely to show commitment in whatever decision taken or role assigned to them because they are involved at all stages.
In their different presentations, members of the SCEEP communities briefed the forum on the progress reports on budget implementation in their communities. Afterward, Malam Nasiru Magaji Garko, Secretary Finance Committee, Kano State House of Assembly and Alhaji Khalid Musa, Desk Officer, Kano State House of Assembly, commended the effort of the Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD) for organizing this worthy event and the effort of the community members for bringing out touching issues in their presentations. In their observations, the duo observed that the two major ongoing Kano State government projects (Lungu Kal-Kal and Karkara Salamu Alaikum) should be involved in the community members’ presentations. They also noticed that all the community reports did not mention the abandoned 5KM roads in the 44 local governments. They tasked the community members in their budget tracking effort to ensure that they know the actual statistics of each project, its history and the ministries responsible for executing each project on secretarial basis. They also doubt the integrity of some of the reports from the community members that the Members State House of Assembly are conniving with contractors on funds allocating to projects which led to poor quality projects. Saying that Members House of Assembly do not have responsibility of executing projects but oversight function on implementation and submission of the people needs. They also urged the community members to engage SAVICOM in their monitoring activities, because there are SAVICOM desk officers in each ministry. Moreover, to advocate to their representatives for the production of soft budget documents that everybody will understand with breakdown figures. This will help them to confidently track and complain for failures. Finally, they assured CITAD that their offices will serve as linkage between the communities and the law makers and they will make effort to see that the public hearing time will be increased to two-day period.
During general discussions, Kabir Sa’d Dakata, CITAD’s Senior Program Officer, evaluated the SCEEP communities monitoring strategies by asking the community members questions on what went wrong and what went successful in their monitoring effort. Then Engr. Kamal Umar made presentation on the Use of Social Media for Project Monitoring and Advocacy.
In his closing remarks and vote of thanks, Malam Abdullahi Yakasai who represented CITAD’s Executive Director, appreciated the support of ACTIONAID Nigeria (AAN) for selecting CITAD as one of the implementing partners of SCEEP project in the country and thanked the community members who he described as progressive partners. He reminds the participants that budget tracking is like farming crops in the farm that needs to be monitored regularly.