‘Include citizens in budgeting process’
Nigerians at the grassroots level were yesterday charged to actively participate in the budget making process and increase their participation in government.
A group under the aegis of Strengthening Citizens’ Engagement in Electoral Process (SCEEP) made the call at a one-day Open Budget Forum on Advancing Citizens Participation in the budget implementation process in Lagos State.
They added that adequate information should be made available to citizens to create awareness with regards to channels of engagement on budget processes at the state and local government levels.
At the forum, organised by the International Press Centre (IPC) in collaboration with ACTIONAID Nigeria and the UKAID Department for International Development (DFID), the participants insisted that there was need for increased advocacy by informed stakeholders on the budget making process in Lagos State.
They added that the involvement of women in the process would ensure proper budgeting for gender issues to the extent that the special needs of women and the girl child would be taken into consideration.
“Persons with disability must also be involved in the process to ensure proper allocation of resources and facilities to cater for their peculiar needs; as well as details of appropriation and actual implementation of budget at the state and local government levels.
“This will enable citizens to be acquainted with the revenue generation and expenditure of Lagos,” the group said.
Director of IPC, Lanre Arogundade, stated that participants always demand that details of Lagos State budget that of and local government areas (LGAs), as well as local councils development areas (LCDAs) be made available to the public.
He said members of the public believe that this would create appropriate channels of accessibility for the purposes of monitoring of budget implementation and tracking for transparency and accountability.
“They have also demanded that budget details should be published in local languages and in Pidgin to enable equal budget participation and open access by all categories of citizens on the implementation process,” he added.
The participants stated that budget allocations in Lagos and at should prioritize the people’s immediate needs including adequate provision in the budget to cater for the special needs of persons with disabilities (PWDs); skill acquisition and empowerment of stakeholders at the state and local government levels to tackle the rising level of poverty in the state.
Arogundade stressed the importance of participatory budget, arguing that the citizens’ access to budget by citizens would allow for proper monitoring of implementation, especially at the grassroots level.
“Inclusive and participatory budgeting will give citizens the opportunity to call government’s attention to projects that were captured in the budget but not implemented,” he stated.
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