The Open Government Partnership (OGP) has tasked civil society organisations in the country to redouble their efforts in strengthening fiscal reforms to promote fiscal transparency accountability and sustainability at sub-national level in line with the ideals of the World Bank-assisted States Fiscal transparency accountability and sustainability (SFTAS) programme for results.
OGP national programme coordinator, Dr. (Mrs.) Gloria Ahmed made the call on Wednesday in Port Harcourt at a 2-day zonal workshop organized for CSOs in the South-South region by OGP in collaboration with Partnership to Engage, Reform and Learn (PERL), a Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office(FCDO)-funded programme.
The information was contained in a statement that was issued by SFTAS communication specialist, Ibrahim Mohammed.
The workshop with the theme ‘Dissemination of the Guide to Enhance Citizens Understanding of Fiscal Issues and Publications by State Governments’ was meant to engage and guide citizens using the SFTAS Citizens Guidance document to enable them understand the technicalities in the expected public financial management publications from state governments in line with the SFTAS programme.
is also envisaged to strengthen the capacity of the citizens and citizen groups to hold informed engagements with the government and demand further transparency and accountability, and continuance of the SFTAS outputs.
Dr. Ahmed notes that the SFTAS programme is one of Nigeria’s most laudable and enduring fiscal reforms initiated by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration that will outlive administrations in the States especially with the commitment and enthusiasm shown by current governors in the states.
While presenting the citizens guide document jointly developed by OGP/FCDO-PERL at the workshop, the OGP national coordinator, also called on states to ensure the adoption of a more participatory budgeting process that brings in the voices of the unheard and underserved and considers equality of voices in decision-making phases.
According to her, the Nigeria OGP secretariat is tasked with the responsibility of providing technical assistance to States under the SFTAS Programme to achieve results in the online publication of approved citizens’ budget with Budget accountability report of citizens’ participation in the budget process and ensure the sustainability of the SFTAS reforms beyond the programme’s timeline. “To sustain the gains, it is equally important to invest more in the technical capacities of non-state actors to take forward the SFTAS programme’s ideals by creating a sense of ownership within the states.
“To this end, we commenced the delivery of the Just in time advisory services on citizens budget and citizens accountability report to increase understanding of actors in these areas and leave a foundation that state and non-state actors can build upon”.
In his remarks earlier, the national programme manager, Accountable, Responsive & Capable Government (ARC), FCDO-PERL, Mr. Ifeanyi Ugwuoke disclosed that citizens’ guidance material provides the rudimentary knowledge to help the citizens build requisite skills needed to better hold government accountable in a constructive and non-confrontational manner.
He explained that the material which was necessitated by the inherent poor engagement skill and knowledge needed by the citizens to better hold government to account was primarily designed as a reference document for non-state actors, including civil society organizations (CSOs), organized private sector players, community-based organizations (CBOs) etc, to enhance their engagement skills for better governance outcome.
On behalf of the SFTAS programme coordination unit, Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, SFTAS programme communications specialist said CSOs have a societal responsibility to continue to monitor the implementation of relevant laws and practices that will ensure the sustainability of its ideals.
Mohammed stressed that the CSOs could do so through direct engagement with the states when they are empowered with the necessary tools and templates and the needed capacity to interrogate work processes through sustained close monitoring to ensure sustainability of fiscal reforms in the states.
To this end, Mr Mohammed charge CSOs to evolve innovative measures to get citizens and other stakeholders interested in public financial management and create demand-side pressure for states to sustain the reforms and results and to push for continued fiscal transparency in the States.
“In particular, CSOs should be keen to monitor the continued online publication of fiscal documents by the States beyond SFTAS lifespan”.
He also called on them to use their rich and wider networks in the media both conventional and digital to mount effective advocacy and mass mobilisation campaign in disseminating the citizens’ guide to the citizens so as to enhance their understanding of PFM reforms.