Abia workers crave for reintroduction of participatory budgeting
Posted by Boniface Okoro, Umuahia | 15 December 2016 | 1,840 times
Abia Governor Okezie Ikpeazu.
Civil servants in Abia State have called on the state government to re-introduce the all-inclusive, participatory budgetary process that allows the electorate to participate in the making of annual budgets.
Such a process, they contend, would lead to the production of a demand-driven budget, eliminate projects duplication and enhance active monitoring of budget performance.
These views were canvassed by workers in Ugwunagbo Local Government Area during a Women Aid Collective (WACOL), Voice to the People (V2P) project meeting at the Council's headquarters. WACOL is a Non-Governmental Organisation.
Senior Programme Officer of WACOL, Mrs. Anulika Ezennia, explained that V2P project was a good governance project supporting communities to take ownership of their development.
According to the workers, dumping participatory budgeting process was hampering accountability and reducing budget performance in terms of service delivery to the people by the various tiers of government.
Participants at the meeting used Ohanku Village which has four Health Centres as a classical example of projects duplication, whereas many villages in the LGA were without a Health Centre.
They emphasised that if participatory budgeting was adopted, projects would not be duplicated in a particular locality to the detriment of others.
Head of Department (HOD) Budget, Research and Planning, Mr. Ezechi Nwankpa, stressed the need to include the masses in the budgeting process if budgets must serve the interest of the people.
Nwankpa regretted that participatory budgeting had been jettisoned for some time now by the past governments to the detriment of the communities in the councils.
Also, HOD, Social Development, Dr. Felix Ahuchama, alleged that politicians by-pass the people in the budget processes to escape accountability.
“Participation cannot work without telling the people the meaning of several things and what is involved. People are denied participation so that they would not know what to ask for and so that the leaders would not be held accountable,” Ahuchama said.
He, therefore, urged governments to encourage full participation of the people in governance processes to ensure that the system created a pathway to accountability and produce expected results.
Chief Chinyere Onuoha, Chief of Staff to the Ugwunagbo Transition Committee Chairman, Mr. Monday Achibiri, was upbeat that the forthcoming local government elections in Abia would help revive participatory budgeting.
According to Onuoha, the forthcoming council poll in the state would also ensure that councilors hold Town-Hall meetings in all their wards and present their findings at Council meetings for desired outcomes.
The Acting HOD, Social Development in the council, Mr. Kalu Obuba said that enthroning inclusive democratic processes which involves participatory budgeting would aid accountability.
Obuba, therefore, called on all tiers of government to be pragmatic in the fight against corruption in order to achieve accountability in government and deliver desired dividends to the people.
Ezennia further explained that the V2P, still in its pilot stage, was being implemented in Enugu, Imo and Abia states. She said that Ugwunagbo and Umunneochi LGAs were the benefitting councils in Abia because an independently commissioned research by another organisation revealed they were the most backward in terms of development in Abia.
She, therefore, called for their collaboration and contribution to change the trajectory of the local government and its people.
The Monitoring and Evaluation officer, WACOL, Mrs. Egodi Igwe, and the Abia State WACOL Coordinator, Lady Ugo Kalu moderated the sessions.