By Ifeanyi Olannye
Mr Boss Mustapha, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), has charged state governments to key into the Open Government Partnership (OGP) initiative to enhance transparency and accountability in governance.
Mustapha made the call on Thursday at the 2nd Quarterly Meeting of Secretary to Government of the Federation and Secretaries to State Government (SSG) in Asaba.
The meeting has as its theme, “Democratic Governance and Sustainable Development in Nigeria: Opportunities in Key Sectors of the Economy”.
He said the quarterly forum strived to build the required synergy between the federal and state bureaucracies, to enhance harmony and improve relationship between the tiers of government.
He said the appraisal provided a better appreciation of the scope of the office mandate and functions and more innovative ways of delivering them.
“In addition, the feedback process is also in place where citizens participate to have a greater say in public decision-making as well as the desire by many governments to improve inclusivity and responsiveness led to calls for more openness in governance.
“Pursuant to this, the Federal Government has been collaborating with an international transparency and accountability organization known as the OGP.
“This is to ensure that budget planning, approval, implementation monitoring and reporting meet the needs of citizens and that citizens have open access to budget information in a format that is both human and machine readable.
It is also “to improve accountability and transparency of government procurement process through the implementation of open contracting and public participation in the public contracting process, among others”.
Mustapha added, “Federal Government would continue to give priority to high employment generating sectors, business improvement environment and youth development and that social investment programmes will continue to be given the required attention.
“The active support and collaboration of sub-national governments is therefore very critical as we strive to resolve the present economic challenges of our country, Nigeria.
“The Sustainable Development Goals are being steadily implemented and substantial progress has been attained in a number of goals.
” As we work towards meeting the 2030 target, states are also encouraged to partner with the Federal Government in this area.
“I urge you to utilise the instrumentality of your office as the policy coordination hub of government to fast-track the initiation and implementation of policies and programmes.
“The states can as well harness the various opportunities in key sectors of the economy, offered by the federal government to improve the lives and well-being of our people,” Mustapha said.
He said the forum provided an atmosphere for critical discussions and policy articulation, experience sharing, peer review and adaptations.
“As you are aware, Nigeria operates constitutional democracy, which has characteristics such as guaranteed freedoms, equity, justice, transparency and accountability among others.
“Democracy also promotes an open participatory process, feedback mechanism, rule of law, thereby guaranteeing better and fairer government policies, programmes
and project implementation.
“As Leaders charged with responsibility of servicing government machinery, policy coordination, monitoring implementation of programmes and policies and reporting in our respective jurisdictions.
“We need to address the question of how to effectively deliver democracy dividends in form of well-articulated policies, programmes and projects.
“At the Federal level, the realisation of the critical role of the SGF office in the coordination of government policies, programs and projects led to conduct of an institutional appraisal in 2019,” he said.
In his remarks, Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa, represented by the SSG, Chief Patrick Ukah, said that only an effective democratic governance helped to advance sustainable development.
He said the theme was apt as government at all levels strived to strengthen democracy and make the idea real.
Okowa lauded the SGF for keeping fate with the cause of advancing the Forum through continuous engagements with Secretaries to State Government.
The Keynote Speaker and former Head of Service of the Federation, Prof. Oladapo Afolabi, said to ensure good governance, rule of law, social accountability, transparency and integrity, independence and high moral values must retake the centre stage.
He urged all leaders to provide direction, maintain order and put the interest of the people above self, adding that anything contrary would be counter- productive.(NAN)