. . . Partners BudgIT to Promote Fiscal Transparency
By Chioma Ndife
The Anambra State Government sequel to the MoU signed with BudgIT on Open Budget System to promote fiscal transparency, has launched an Action Plan for Open Government Partnership and Anti-Corruption Strategy in the state.
The Action Plan, geared at building more involvement of the citizenry in government affairs, was launched last Tuesday at Dora Akunyili Women’s Development Centre, Awka, after the signing of the MoU on Open Budget System at Jerome Udoji Secretariat, Awka.
Fides gathered that the initiative is with the support of Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption (ROLAC) programme funded by the European Union and implemented by the British Council in five states in Nigeria which include; Adamawa, Anambra, Edo, Kano and Lagos.
Presenting the Open Government Partnership Document and Anambra State Anti-Corruption Strategy Document after the launch, the Anambra State Governor, Chief Willie Obiano, revealed that the documents were adopted in the state to boost its efforts to become more open, transparent, accountable and to improve public engagement. He noted that such was in line with the quest of the state to build a better society for all people, stimulate economic growth and innovation, foster collaboration between government, business, academia, non-government organizations and the community and continue efforts to stamp out corruption, fraud and misconduct.
Governor Obiano who was represented by the Head of Service, Barr. Harry Uduh, revealed the various programmes which the state had launched. He said that such programmes were aimed at improving security, transparency in revenue generation and community led development. He said the state government had increased openness of its budget processes for active involvement of all stakeholders, noting that communities had been encouraged to identify projects and lead in their execution, whilst the government provided the funding.
He stated that the expectations of OGP tallied with what government had been doing in the state and reaffirmed the readiness of the state government to work in close collaboration with local governments, community development associations, traditional institutions, faith based organizations, non-state actors and other development partners.
He explained that Anambra Action Plan had gone beyond the four thematic areas of the National Action Plan to include fiscal transparency, anti-corruption, access to information, citizen engagement and climate, which had special peculiarities to issues facing the state.
Speaking after the signing of the MoU, the Commissioner for Economic Planning, Budget and Development Partners, Mark Okoye, disclosed that Anambra was one of the 13 states in Nigeria to sign the OGP initiative but the 8th state to develop a State Action Plan (SAP).
He explained that the signing of the MoU with BudbIT was in line with the commitment of the state to enhance openness, accountability, transparency and citizen’s Involvement in decision making in the affairs of the government.
He said the document compilation started over two years previously and expressed optimism that its implementation could commence in a short while. He said the social contract between the state government and the people, if honoured, would increase citizen trust and enhance participation in government affairs.
Also Speaking, BudgIT’s Principal Leader, Gabriel Okeowo, noted that BudgIT was glad to work with the Anambra State Government and citizens to achieve a transparent fiscal system by supporting the state with technical resources to make its budget more open. He promised that the team would develop citizen’s budget and a web-based feedback mechanism for citizen’s participation and enlistment on the national web portal for states’ financial documents to become more accessible to citizens for enhanced participation.
He beckoned on other states to be bold in their commitment for an open and inclusive government that encouraged increased confidence in government in a bid to foster development at the subnational level.
He said that BudgIT over the years, through, Open Alliance, had been at the forefront of a subnational transparency campaign that encouraged and supported states to sign up to the OGP, to foster fiscal transparency, access to information, citizens’ participation and innovation needed for inclusive development and efficient service delivery for its citizens.
The ROLAC Rep, Emmanuel Uche, said the EU and British Council included Anambra among its focal states due its great commitment to reform and commended the cooperation which the body had received from the state, saying Anambra was one of the few states where they had made landmark achievements.
In a remark, Citizens Co-Chair, Anambra State OGP, Prince Chris Azor, identified the principle of co-creation as the unique quality of OGP and reminded the government of the need to always maintain its principle for a sustainable partnership and mutual cooperation.
OGP Focal Person in Anambra State, Ogochukwu Orji, traced the series of events that led to the creation of an action plan and development of anti-corruption strategy, saying it would address the state’s contextual issues.