Budget: Citizens must be part of government planning process -Greg Anyaegbudike

By Olawale Oyegbade, The Nigerian Voice, S/W Bureau Chief

"When the citizens are adequately integrated into the government planning process in Nigeria, the budget would deliver services to the people."

The Federal Team Leader, Engage Citizens Pillar, Partnership to Engage Reform and Learn (ECP-PERL), Mr Greg Anyaegbudike said this while addressing members of the civil society at a meeting in Abuja today, preparatory to public hearing by National Assembly on 2020 budget of Nigeria on Wednesday 23rd and Thursday 24th October 2019.

Anyaegbudike reiterated that the aim of PERL is to facilitate the process of making government and citizens solve the problems of citizens, as partners.

The meeting was organised by Open Alliance with support from ECP-PERL, a programme of UK- Department for International Development (DFID).

Anyaegbudike said PERL is happy working with Open Alliance which has more than 200 civil society bodies in the country as members. He said that it is expected that much more civil society groups would be part of the alliance.

The Senior Program Officer, BudgIT who is also the National Coordinator of Open Alliance, Ayomide Faleye said the intent was is to strengthen Civil Societies in the country to collectively engage to make government open and ensure actualization of Open Government Partnership (OGP) in Nigeria.

Faleye said as civil societies would have the opportunity to speak to some salient issues in the 2020 proposed budget during the public hearing by the National Assembly on the 23rd and 24th of October 2019, they must come up with a standpoint adequate enough to engage the legislators

During the meeting, the Research Coordinator, Development Strategy Centre, Enugu, David Onyinyechi Agu in his presentation focusing on contextual analysis of the 2020 budget of the Federal Government charged the Civil Society to be strategic in the budget engagement.

David said “In analysing the budget, it is important to critically look at projections in the budget in the light of current realities. Considering current realities, the assumptions underlying revenue projections in the 2020 proposed budget are very weak and there are no bases for expecting that that can be realised. The non-realisation of projected revenues has consistently been blamed for the low level of implementation of the capital component of budgeted expenditures in recent years.”

Speaking further, Anyaegbudike said "The National Assembly is trying to get the input of the citizens through the budget public hearing on the 2020 budget proposal which was presented by President Muhammadu Buhari a couple of weeks ago”.

"This is a process that we believe if it is opened and the voices of the citizens enter the budget, then we would have been living up to the point where the citizens are part of government planning process."

"Civil society must study and dissect the content of the budget, understand and be part of the processes in both the National Assembly and the ministries. This must continue up to the point of passage, mobilization and implementation."

"Part of the implementation is procurement and mobilization. Civil Society must do quality engagement to ensure that budget deliver the goods and services that the budget is meant to deliver."

Participants who spoke at the meeting expressed worry that the previous budgets of Federal Government over the years have not really addressed the critical needs of the citizens particularly as affecting the poor.

They however expressed hope that the 2020 budget would be transparent, properly implemented and deliver services to the people.

Some of the Civil Societies at the meeting include the Budget Working Group (BWG), Centre for Gender and Social Inclusion, BudgIT, Justice, Development and Peace Commission, Nnewi, AccountabilityLab Nigeria, Africa Centre LSD, Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ), Publish What You Pay, Follow Taxes,Basic Rights Watch, BhondIT Solutions Intiative, Youth Foundation Initiative, Cleen foundation, Kimpact Development Initiative, Citizens Right Concern (CRC), Coalition of Association of Leadership, Peace, Empowerment & Development (CALPED), Centre for Inclusive Development (CID), Abuja Chamber of Commerce & Industry (ACCI), Order Paper (OP), Action Aid (AA), Citizens Connect (CC) among others.