A civil society organization, The Initiative for Grassroot Advancement in Nigeria (INGRA), has called on Kogi State House of Assembly to deliberately ensure increased citizens participation through organization of public hearing during appropriation process to ensure effective citizen’s participation in the budget processes.
The call was contained in a communiqué issued at the end of the 1st Bi-Monthly meeting of the state level advocacy and legislative engagement forum organized by INGRA, with support from the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room, in Lokoja on Friday.
The legislative engagement forum noted that availability of Kogi State Budget documents has been a major achievement of the Governor Yahaya Bello administration, and called for its sustenance.
The communiqué stated that Kogi State budgeting process had always been a bottom-top approach, with little or no inputs from citizens. But added that there seem to be a willingness on the part of the present Assembly to engage citizens and the civil society.
They noted with dismay that bills and motions by elected members of the House of Assembly are mostly without inputs from their constituents.
“Constituency meetings by elected members of the Kogi State House of Assembly are not consistent and effective in providing the constitutional platform for engagement with citizens
“A review of the 2023 State Budget showed that there was a heavy sided focus on recurrent expenditure, to the detriment of the needs of citizens
“The administration sector has consistently gotten the large chunk of the State Appropriation despite not been a revenue generating agency,” the communiqué read in part.
The forum called for a shift in focus from recurrent to capital spending in the 2024 Budgets.
They specifically called for reduction in allocation of resources from administration sector to social sector to ensure better standard of living for citizens of Kogi State.
“Executive and the Legislature must ensure increased resources to Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH), Housing, Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development (MWASD), Youth Commission, and Disability Board in the 2024 budget appropriation.
“Stakeholders must immediately engage the relevant House Assembly Committees with a view to addressing the optimal operationalization of the Child Rights Law, Violence Against Persons Prohibition Law, Youth Commission Law, Elderly Person and the Aged Law, due to certain limitations in these laws and their enforcement.
“The Kogi State House of Assembly must as a matter of urgency appropriate sufficient resources to the Ministry of Agriculture to address issues of food security in the 2024 budget.
“Capacity building of leaders at all levels of Ministries Departments and Agencies should be a core criteria in appointments. There should be deliberate funding for capacity Building in 2024 Budget to cater for this,” they recommended.
Earlier, the Executive Director of INGRA, Hamza Aliyu, who made a presentation on the 2023 budget review and 2024 budget engagement roadmap, explained that the level advocacy and legislative engagement forum was to increase citizen participation in legislative processes in the state.
The forum comprised of stakeholders such from Kogi State members of Situation Room, civil society organizations, members of the press and other stakeholders from the legislative arm of government.