- Six state governments across Nigeria has partnered with USAID to improve the lives of their citizens
- The partnership through the State2State Activity would focus on critical areas of budgeting in the states
- Through the project, there would improve transparency, accountability and effectiveness of governance processes in the states
Abuja, FCT - To improve governance in Nigeria, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in partnership with Development Alternatives Incorporated (DAI) is working with governments to increase accountability, transparency, and effectiveness in targeted states and local government areas.
The project; State Accountability, Transparency, and Effectiveness (State2State) aimed at strengthening governance systems and increasing the government’s ability to respond to citizens’ needs and priorities.
To be implemented in the following states:
2. Akwa Ibom
The project would also improve government and civil society capacity to manage conflict through prevention, mitigation, and reconciliation with sectoral partners.
Speaking during the state action planning retreat for the Sokoto state transformation committee attended by Legit.ng, John Onyeukwu, the deputy chief of party, DAI, State2State Activity said the core target of the activity is to improve governance using the political audit finance management as an entry point.
According to Onyeukwu, the activity is expected to support the financial process in these states including procurement, revenue generation and auditing.
It would also ensure that citizens are mainstreamed in the planning process.
“The process would ensure that those who are normally excluded – women, persons with disability, the elderly are included in the democratic process.”
“This is so that we can have a sustainable way of running the government, basically, it is institutionalising governance in the most tenable and achievable way.”
On expected cooperation between government and other partners involved in order to ensure the project is a success, Onyeukwu said strategies have been put in place for top-notch collaboration among partners and target population.
“Usually there is that resistance but with us it is different. We don’t come with – this is the best way to make this work, rather we are working in partnership with the government to see how we can even work on the reforms they have invested in.”
“To every governor that I had to meet, I tell them that their generation is the generation that must reform or that’s the end because resources are not coming as it used to from oil, there’s no more as much free money as we used to get.”
He added that while there is much effort put into the reform process, governors are beginning to talk more about improving internally generated revenue.
He noted that the activity has been programmed in a manner that every partner is carried along.
“We have also programmed in a way that we are partners in this process, in all the states, the government are providing us with office allocations – two, three rooms and some even more - and that is a huge investment.”
“And for them to put in that resources, they need some returns, and the return they are getting is new ideas, embedding consultants with them, helping them with processes to plan because basically, they are feeding into our work plan.”
Finance Management By State Governments
Onyeukwu said that through the project, the financial management process of the states would also remain a key domain.
He said that with the activity implemented, it is expected that the budget of each state budget is detailed and self-explanatory to ensure transparency and accountability.
“Now you find out that budget that used to be 200 pages would now be about 500 pages to allow for detailing and itemisation to make room for accountability. You can no longer hide one item under one lump sum and believe that people will not know. So, all of those wastages, they are fighting it.”
Citizens’ Role in the Project
According to Onyeukwu, there are expectations from all groups and partners involved in bringing the project to fruition.
He also mentioned that for the State2State Activity to work, citizens of the states would have to be part of the process by engaging their government.
“The citizens need to know that they are part of this process, and they have the voice, the right and the obligation to do that. For instance, early next month, we would be training civil society organisations in all the six states on the budgeting process and we would also be providing them with some mentoring.”
Also speaking, the co-chairman and Sokoto state head of service, Abubakar Muhammad, said the state has continued to show its readiness in improving the lives of the people.
“We realised that for us to sustain that history of development, there is a need for us to look for other areas to strengthen our governance and to also build the capacity of our civil services and prepare for greater challenges ahead of us.
“Now, there is no better way than to embrace this particular intervention by USAID for us to further improve the practices already functional in the state and the country in general.”
“With regards to budgeting, we are not doing badly, it is part of the area where we scored highly, however, we believe we can do more.”
Muhammad said part of what the state would be looking forward to in this particular area is knowing that Sokoto is part of the subnational team and adopt the process of peer review while on the project.
In a Facebook post, the Sokoto state governor, Aminu Tambuwal, in a press statement said his government is working out modalities to give protection to informers of security outfits on the myriads of criminal activities taking place in their domains.
Also, Legit.ng previously reported that the village head of Magira, Sabon Birni local government area of Sokoto state was killed following a bandit attack in the community.
It was gathered that the bandits also stole the sum of N12 million from cattle herders in the area during the attack which took place on May 25.
The armed bandits also kidnapped a 16-year-old girl in Garin Idi area of the state after attacking a village.
In other news, the Federal Government through the Border Communities Development Agency (BCDA) moved to improve the lives of the people of Sokoto state.
The agency commissioned an agricultural project to ensure sustainable social, economic, and infrastructural development of border communities in Nigeria.
The government's initiative is a micro-cell cluster farm pilot project to be implemented in Dogon-Daji Community in Tambuwal local government area.