Borno State Holds Town Hall Meeting on 2021 Citizens Involvement In Budget Preparation

By Sadiq Abubakar, The Nigerian Voice, Maiduguri

Borno State Governor, Professor Babagana Zulum has said that the 2020 Budget has been compromised by COVID-19 pandemic and crash in the crude oil price at the global market which undermined the federation account allocation, valued Added Tax and other sources of revenue that are equally affected by tthe economic melt down caused by the pandemic

" it is my honour and previlage to be in your midst this morning on the occasion of a town Hall meeting in order to interact and discuss fundemental issues on 2021 budgeting for Borno state ".

In preparation of the 2021 budget and it's commitment to ensurting citizens driven budget that catered for the yearnings and aspirations of it's citizens, the Borno state government has held a Town Hall meeting to enable citizens contribute to the formulation of the 2021 budget.

He added that the town hall meeting was a clear demonstration of the state government's commitment to ensure transparency in the budget process that will address the yearnings and aspirations of the people".

The governor who was represented by his Deputy, Alhaji Umar Kadafur said at the Town Hall meeting which was held at the Multi Purpose Hall of the Government House, Mauduguri on Thursday, " the 2020 projection of N146 .89 billion was revised to N108 billion due to the negative effect on our projected revanue as a result of COVID 19 pandemic."

" The implication of this made our projects and programme suffer implementation challenges. I therefore urge the good people of Borno state to bear with this administration as we are committed and resolute in the provision of devidends of democracy in line with our 10 point policy trust.

" Let me inform this gathering that our aspirations in 2020 budget were largely compromised due to the emergence of COVID 19 global pandemic, crude oil price crash which undermined our federation account allocation, valued Added Tax and other sources of revenue equally affected by tthe economic melt down caused by the pandemic", Zulum said.

Governor Zulum further noted that town hall meeting is an annual event leading to compilation of draft Budget with variety of aspirations and needs of the people.

The Deputy Govenror Alhaji Umar Usman Kadaffur however Commended Governor Babagama Umara Zulum for his financial management and transparency in the budget implementation.

In his keynote address, the Borno State Commissioner for Finance, Budget, and Planning Hon Adamu Lawan said "the participants at this occasion include top functionaries of the Government, including the Secretary to the State Government.

Others include Head of the Civil Service, Honourable Members of Borno State House of Assembly, Permanent Secretaries, Chief Executives of Extra-Ministerial Departments & Agencies, Traditional Rulers, Chairman and Members of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), among other invited guests too numerous to acknowledge individually.

He noted that the town hall meeting was a forum to give the citizens of the state the opportunity to participate in the budget process, making the second time this governement is involving the citizenry in the annual budget preparations.

" The Governor is a well known person for his commitment to the needs and desires of the people at all times. His Excellency is always at the forefront when it comes to matters affecting the masses and generality of the citizens of Borno State.

" The purpose of town hall meeting is to engage citizens to enable them interact and provide inputs in the Budgeting process aimed at meeting the State’s Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) in tune with His Excellency’s Good Governance proclamation as captured in the SDP Document with a vision and aim to inspire the people and ambitions being practical.

"Already, the Ministry of Finance, Budget and Economic Planning has constituted a Budget Working Group (BWG) with representative of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and members of the organized labour which is another way of engaging the citizens directly in budget preparation process."

"It is therefore my sincere hope and prayer that by the end of this Town Hall meeting, the citizen’s needs aimed at elevating their welfare, will be captured and incorporated into the State’s 2021 Budget.

" I would like to seize this opportunity to assure this august gathering that the Department of Budget and Planning will be alert to its responsibilities by ensuring that all budgetary procedures are strictly adhered to by all MDAs as spelled out in the 2021 Budget Call Circular.

"Accounting officers are advised on use of Proper organizational and economic codes and appropriate narrations must be followed to avoid mis-appropriation of scarce resources. Equally, they are also reminded to be mindful and ensure transparency and prudent utilization of scarce public resources. "

" The Town Hall meeting is the second under the Dynamic Leadership of His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Borno State. The first held on 22nd July, 2019 was successful and fruitful.

Adamu added that due to the emergence of the COVID –19 pandemic that affected the global economy and subsequent fall in oil prices and reduction in production level, revenues accruing to the Government from this and other sectors fell.

In his submission, the Chairman, Network for Civil Society, Amb Ahmed Shehu who was represented by the NLC chairman, Comrade Bulama Abiso said ", during the 2020 Town Hall meeting the civil Society organisations submitted 50 demands and out of that 20 have already been executed by the state government .

" In preparation of 2021 budget, we went to the 27 local government areas and had an interface with different clubs, civil society organisation from base organisations came up with this compendium ", Shehu said.

The Speaker, BOSHA, Rt. Hon. Abdulrahman Lawan represented by the House Majority Leader, Hon. Mohammed Dige Assures of continuous support to the executive arm of government towards meeting the yearnings and aspirations of the people of Borno State, prompt oversight functions to checkmate activities of Government and holding public hearing with all stakeholders, especially, the Network of CSOs and general public.

He also commended the governor for his prudent financial commitment and determination to develop the state, assuring of the assembly's support at all times while thanking the ministry of finance for organizing the town hall meeting.

In their submissions, the National Council for Women society, Nigerian Bar Association, Physically Challenged Persons Associations, NBA and other groups commended the government for the opportunity given to them to contribute their quota and voice on their needs.

Participants also called on the government to pay more attention to women and youths empowerment, job creation, outstanding gratuities, pensions and allowances of civil servants, healthcare services, provision of water supply , roads construction, welfare and car loans for ministerial legal officers and Sharia court judges among others.