–At least 13 civil society organizations under Concerned Civil Society in Kaduna yesterday raised concerns over Kaduna State 2020 Budget’s Bill.
Leader of the team and Co-Chair, Technical Working Group of OGP, Barrister Rebecca Sako-John raised the alarm during a Press conference held in Kaduna.
She said although the town hall meeting had been postponed for two days, the group faulted the idea of having a single town hall meeting as against earlier agreement to hold in the three senatorial districts of the State.
She said: “As you are all aware, recently Kaduna was ranked number one in Nigeria on transparency and openness as a result of governance reform initiatives that is driven under the umbrella of the Open Government Partnership (OGP).
“It is also no longer news that, Kaduna State is the first sub-national to sign onto the OGP at the national and global level; which commits the government to co-create key decisions on governance with the civil society as equal partners.
“Through the co-creation principles both the government and civil society partners developed and adopted the State Action Plan (SAP) with five commitments on open budget, open contracting, ease of doing business, access to information and citizen’s engagement.
“It will interest you to know that, the commitment on open budget states that, ‘ensure more effective citizen’s participation in the entire budget cycle’; which means that through-out the budget process, there should be evidence of citizens informing and influencing budgetary decisions.
“Without doubt, much progress has been made in opening up spaces for citizens to engage in the budget process, but the notice that the 2020 budget town-hall meeting is scheduled for today, October 10, 2019 without adequate consultation, threatened the desired organic process of co-creation as envisage in the letters and spirit of the OGP.
“It is in this regard that we received the news of the postponement of 2020 budget town-hall meeting earlier slated for 3pm yesterday .
“This is considering that the OGP civil society State Steering Committee and Technical Working Group members and the larger citizens only got the draft budget document this morning. This is unlike previous years when the draft budget was made public at least two days to the meeting to allow for an informed engagement.
“We want to specially commend the government for hearing our outcry and taking the difficult but necessary decision to postpone the town-hall meeting to Saturday, October 12 2019. This is a clear demonstration to the entire world that you are responsive and accountable to the residents of Kaduna. Indeed, this is OGP in practice.
Political Adviser to Governor Nasir El-Rufai, Ben Kure, had in a letter of invitation sent to the Co-chairman (citizen arm) of Open Government Partnership (OGP), Mustapha Jumare, said, the town hall meeting to discuss the 2020 draft budget was scheduled to hold on October 10 without making the copy of the 259 pages document available until a few hours to the scheduled meeting.

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