BY: AISHA SAAD
The USAID State Transparency And Accountability Activity has organised a two-days capacity building workshop to community social organisations, faith based organisations and staff from Ministries, Departments and Agencies on citizens budget and citizens accountability report. Held at AUN Hotel, Yola.
The objectives of the workshop is to increase participant's knowledge and understanding on the state’s budget, including citizens budget and citizens accountability budget and the process involved, support community social organisation and citizens group to participate and facilitate production of simplified version of the state 2020 budget and accountability report, strengthens and promote women’s civic participation in citizens budget and citizens accountability report process, establish mechanism for sustained production of citizens budget, stimulate participants to have a good understanding of what state Government is doing, develop action plan and way forward for more effective and sustainable citizen budget and citizens accountability report process.
Declaring the workshop open, the state team lead, Mr. Machill Maxwell, stated that the workshop is geared towards creating awareness and synergy between Government and citizens on the need to have an insight on people’s needs by the Government and on the other hand it will give room for community social organisations to have deep understanding of Government’s budget and how the Government spent the allocated amount of money for developmental projects.
The participants were exposed to the concept of ‘Citizens Budget’ by a facilitator, Mr. Emmanuel Bwala, he defined Citizens Budget as a simple presentation of budget in a way that a lay man/ audience is able to understand and digest. He added that some states presents citizen’s budget in local languages for easy understanding of budget by all classes of citizen.’ Citizens Accountability Report’ as a simple representation of the end of year financial repot of the Government.
More so, other topics presented at the workshop are: ‘State Government’s Budget’ by a specialist, Mrs. Suzanne Myada, she defined State Government’s Budget as the proposed revenue and expenditure of the Government for 12 months period, with the executive arm of Government prepares and legislative approves and in doing so authorities execute to tax, borrow and spend. Other topics discussed are; Relationship between citizens budget and state physical transparency accountability and sustainability, preparation of citizens budget and Ministries Departments and Agencies responsible, citizens responsibilities/Roles of Community Social Organisations in citizens budget, state Government’s budgeting process, Adamawa State Citizen’s Budget -Engagement by Community Social Organisations-Processes, Challenges and Prospects, Review of Adamawa State Citizen’s Budget- How it looks /it’s content, Review of Adamawa State 2021 Citizens Budget, Community Social Organisations feedback on Discussions, Questions and Answer’s on the reviewed Adamawa State Citizen’s Accountability Report 2021, Observations and feedback by Community Social Organisations on the Citizens Budget and Citizen’s Accountability Report.
Climax of the workshop was discussions on challenges of inclusion in budget preparation, citizens engagement, giving more priority to a particular senatorial zone than another, low involvement of citizens in budget preparation, lack of public awareness of citizens among others. Some prospects are; Inclusive Governance, Transparency, Equity/ Equality and rapid development.
In an interview with participants, the Women leader, people living with disabilities Mrs. Godiya Simon, said people living with disabilities are left behind in Citizen’s Budget preparation and Accountability while they have the right and percentage in the budget but they are not being carried along. She called on members of their association to attend and contribute in budget preparation whenever they are invited.
Also, the Chairman Association of private Schools of Adamawa State, Mal. Usman Arabo, described the workshop as timely, because citizens need to be part of budget preparation so that they can tell Government their basic needs but, unfortunately, majority of citizens are not aware that they are suppose to be part of budget preparation, he called on citizens to always turn up whenever they are invited for budget preparation and budget accountability.
Moreover, The Chairman House standing committee on budget appropriation, Mr. Clerkson Gajere, stated that whenever State House of Assembly is set for budget accountability they communicate to Community Social Organisations, Religious leaders and other members of community to Come and tell Government their priorities in their various communities, then, the legislatures note it and report it Executive to ensure they accomplished people’s needs. Thereafter, technical committee will supervise the projects to find out whether they are well executed.