Niger Delta group, Oxfam deplore secrecy in governance
The Niger Delta Budget Monitoring Group (NDEBUMOG) and Oxfam Nigeria have deplored secrecy in governance, especially over fiscal processes.
They also lamented that budget information and fiscal documents are treated as classified secret materials, particularly at the state level.
“Fiscal architecture should be tailored towards addressing income redistribution for women and economic empowerment, to lift millions of women out of poverty, close the inequality gap and amplify their voices,” they said.
The groups disclosed this in a communiqué issued after a capacity building and mobilisation of marginalised groups programme for women and other stakeholders for budget tracking and formation of shadow clusters organised by NDEBUMOG in collaboration with OXFAM in Akwa Ibom State.
Members of the Communiqué Drafting Committee, including CEO of NDEBUMOG, George-Hill Anthony, Glory Uko-Enin, Ene Okoho from Calabar, Faith Udoh from Uyo and Oxfam representative, Henry Ushie, endorsed the statement.
They urged the government at all levels to consciously encourage citizens, including women participation in budgeting processes from conceptualisation, formulation, defence, legislation, implementation, monitoring, evaluation and tracking.
They added that the government should initiate policies aimed at reducing poverty and inequality gaps that ensure that the poor get poorer, while the rich get richer.
Insisting that that women were the hardest hit by the inequality gap, they argued that the reason for the huge gaps was because a few persons have hijacked the country’s resources.
Participants raised concerns about government attempts to close the civic space through its actions, pronouncements, bills to parliament and abhorrence of even constructive criticisms, saying among other things, these negate citizens’ passion to demand accountability, ease tension in the polity and sustain the nation’s democracy.
They demanded an end to all government’s attempts to shrink the civic space, pronouncements meant to repress the citizens’ voices and should understand that freedom of expression was a democratic necessity.
“Freedom of expression, non-violent protests, peaceful assembly, among others, are guaranteed human rights. Citizens should also avoid factors that fuel violence and instability in the polity.
“Women should be encouraged to participate in governance through gender equity. Cultures, traditions, policies and practices, which limit women participation in governance at all levels should be eliminated,” they said.
They expressed concern that the country would not develop in agriculture, without meaningful participation of women and as such government should encourage inclusive agricultural policies and schemes that would guarantee farmers, especially, women’s access to incentives and supply chain engineering.