In its quest to ensure good governance by instilling accountability at the local government level, the BudgIT Nigeria, a civic organization committed to ensuring accountability in government, on Wednesday, November 3, 2021, embarked on a partnership with Ikorodu – based youth organizations, media organisations, elected representatives and community development facilitators.
At a training held at the EROZ Place, 79, Borokinni Street, Aga, Ikorodu, about 20 representatives of various groups were trained by the organization and its unit on Tracka which is responsible for tracking performances of budget and other funds allocations.
The training, which was the first of many series of engagements outlined, was themed, ‘A Day Capacity Training on Participatory Governance For Improved Accountability For CSOs and CBOs’.
In the five hours session, participants were drilled on sub – topics which included -Participatory Governance As A Tool For Development (How’s, Where and when), Civic Engagement – The Tracka Story (pus sign) Community Champions and Advocacy Tools For Accountability and Transparency..
The engagement was supported by the European Union (EU) and British Council (BC).
In her welcome address Ayomide Ladipo, one of the facilitators, said that the partnership is aimed at building the capacity of people, especially young men that are interested in good governance and community at the grassroots level and partner with them in ensuring that local governments are made accountable.
“We are here to build the capacity of people so that they will be able to engage and call out the government, especially in the local government and not BudgIT at all the time”, she said.
“This is how to bring good governance together. It is our collective responsibilities and not for just a few people.
“We are interested in making people work together on how to make the government to be alive to its responsibilities and work for the people and our focus now is the local government”.
In the first session, Ayomide identified lack of need assessments before budgeting and lack of understanding of what budget is all about as major problems confronting budget performance.
She said that the organization has been able to access the budget of the Federal and State Governments, but that that of the Local Government has always been shrouded in secrecy.
“We have been unable to track Local Government budget despite access to State and FG’s budgets, hence, people should be critical in making government at the grassroots accountable by doing the tracking themselves”, she said.
Macaulay Ihenyen, a Project Tracking Officer, in the second session, said that BudgIT has presence in about 32 states of the federation where budgets and other finances of the governments are being tracked.
He said that it is the responsibility of the people to ask questions about what the money budgeted for are being used for.
He also said that there is need to discourage empowerment which carries about 90% of constituency projects because only few are benefitting and while it also serves as an avenue to divert public funds.
The tracking officer called for more projects that will have more impacts on the generality of the people instead of empowerment.
He charged participants to be good Community Champions in their respective locality by engaging others in the course.
Another Project Tracking Officer, Adewole Adejola, trained participants on tools being used for tracking the allocation and uses of public funds.
The session also availed the participants, who were provided with documents containing FG Constituency Projects in Lagos State for 2021, the training on how they can track and monitor if the projects are being executed or not and the need to call the representatives responsible out where they are not executing them and commend them wheen they do.
The Head of the Tracka, BudgIT Foundation, Ilevbaoje Uadamen who also engaged participants, said that:
“Tracka is an aspect of BudgIT responsible for addressing some social and economic issues . Our job is to build capacity and let people know that they have roles to play.
“We are working towards the eradication of all sorts of empowerment as constituency projects, and promotion of meaningful projects that have direct benefits and impacts on the generality of the people”, he added.
Participants at the training commended the organization for the partnership and charged them in ensuring that it is a continuous one by providing technical, legal and logistics support in making local government administrators accountable.
They established that budget details in Ikorodu councils have been shrouded in secrecy, a situation they said has made the budget difficult to be monitored.
It was also agreed that many of the elected Council Councilors are not qualified to handle budgets and legislative duties and that the process is being manipulated by chairmen and few political leaders at the detriment of the people.
Many of the participants that established that they had engaged council administrators in Ikorodu, reiterated their further commitments to do more in putting the searchlights on the councils and making them accountable.
The second part of the training comes up soon.