The Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD) has launched a mobile app known as the ‘Office of the Citizens’ on budgetary and procurement processes in Bauchi state.
According to Isah Garba, Senior Programmes Officer of CITAD, the project is intended to improve service delivery through effective citizen participation in the budgetary and procurement processes in Bauchi state.
He told Journalists during a press conference in his office on Thursday that it focuses on building the capacity of the legislators, public officers and civil society activists in the state to be able to work together to promote effective citizens participation in the governance process of the state.
He explained further that the project currently works in six local government areas of the state namely: Alkaleri, Bauchi, Katagum, Misau, Ningi, and Toro with a special focus on Basic Education, Procurement, Freedom of Information and the Budgetary process.
The goal of the project is to Strengthen Citizen’s Participation in Governance through Active Participation in the Budgetary and Procurement Processes of the state.
Isah Garba added that the objectives of the project are to Enhance the capacity of 40 CSOs to engage both government and citizens in the budget process as means of improving citizens’ participation in budget processes and Enhance the skills of 40 government officials in the interface with citizens to collect, collate and use citizens input in the budget process.
It will also facilitate the monitoring of procurement processes in the focal areas of education, health, and youth and women’s development while part of the initiative in the project is to help citizens monitor public projects in their communities and provide feedback to the government on the status and nature of the project implementations as well as demand that projects are executed based on the contract agreement between the government and the contractors.
In order to make this happen easily, the project decided to leverage technology to bridge the gap of time and locations as well as reduce cost implications in the course of reporting projects and also assist the government to get instant reports on projects from the communities, even if the government project monitoring team is not on ground.
The Senior Program Manager explained that the application was developed using Java8 programming language, with PHP and MYSQL as a database management system that encrypts any user information in the server.
The application has signing keys which were generated using Android Studio APK analyzer signed by Google, any user information or form submitted in the application is stored on the Amazon web server (AWS) while anyone can open an account from the app and can report, but no one can have access to the backend or source code until they are permitted on the GitHub server.
The app can serve as an interface platform between the citizens, public officers and legislators in the state, where citizens can effectively participate in decision-making and improve transparency and accountability in the state.
He then disclosed that it is currently available on the Android Play Store with the name office of the citizens and can be downloaded and used by every citizen in the state to send reports on project implementations in their communities, and where the response of the Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning is needed, there is an interface through chatting that any user can ask questions and responses will be provided either instantly or when the responses are available.
Additionally, the state budget documents released by the ministry of budget and economic planning will be uploaded on the app so that users can easily access the documents from the app. alternatively, the users can access the platform using any browser through https://bauchibudgettracker.com.ng/
On the call of CITAD, he said that “We want to use this medium to call on civil society organizations and community-based organizations in Bauchi state who are the voice and eyes of the citizens in the state to download the App, utilize the App as well as sensitize their partners on reporting project implementations at the community level so that the state government can get on the spot report on projects to enable the state track, monitor, and ensure value for money and effective service to the citizens of the state”.
He added that “We should all know that governance is a collective responsibility of both the government and the citizens, therefore, it is imperative for both to work together to ensure effective service delivery and inclusive governance and decision-making process in the state”.