The Adamawa North Senatorial District edition of the ICPC-UNDP NGOs’ Capacity Building Training Programme for the Grassroots on Budget Processes views as a major step towards ensuring effective engagement of citizens has been held in the state.The training organised by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) was conducted in two (2) batches (Michika 5th – 6th November and Mubi 8th – 9th November).
NGO Network coordinated the programme. And target-participants included Non State Actors (Community Based Organisations, Non Governmental Organisations, Civil Society Groups, etc), opinion leaders, community leaders, etc drawn from the five (5) Local Government Areas that constitute Adamawa North Senatorial District viz: Michika, Madagali, Mubi North, Mubi South and Maiha Local Governments. The main objective of the programme which was to build participants’ capacity to engage government and take active part in all budgetary processes to ensure transparency, accountability and good governance.
Reports said the programme, which was attended by over 100 participants (including, among others, several representatives of MDAs, Non-State Actors, Government, Traditional institution, the Political class, etc,) involved speeches, presentation and discussion/evaluation of training papers, group syndication and interface sessions.
Four training papers were presented by Muhammad Mustapha, Executive Director, Democratic Action Group, DAG, Kano on “Understanding the Meaning and Fundamentals of Budget and Budgeting” Ayuba Joshua, Adamawa State Universal Basic Education Board on “Budget Process and Budgeting System” Mohammed Bougei Attah, Managing Editor, NGO Network Magazine and National Coordinator, Procurement Observation and Advocacy Initiative – PRADIN on “Framework for Budget Tracking, Monitoring and Reporting” and “The Concept of Budget Advocacy”
After an exhaustive appraisal of the speeches, training papers, group syndicate reports and contributions from participants on the general principles of the subject matter, participants identified the following challenges facing the nation’s national budget processes: Lack of transparency in the conduct of budget business in the country; Existence of a wide gulf between government spending and actual development outcomes; Leakages in resources in-flow network and mismanagement of public funds and resources; Non-prosecution of cases of vagrant infringement on and violation of budget laws and provisions; Lack of adequate awareness among key stakeholders and the general public on their roles in budget processes; Lack of equity and improper targeting; Near-absence and or weak monitoring process particularly on how public funds and government expenditure are translated into real time desired outcomes; Lack of financial independence on the part of the third sector community (CSOs, CBOs, NGOs, NSAs, etc) to engage in effective advocacy and Ignorance of the civil society on their roles in budget processes
After a careful reflection on the aforementioned challenges and having considered the inhibitions they are likely to pose to the achievement of transparency, accountability, good governance and the attainment of our collective aspirations as a people, participants consequently agreed that the following resolutions be adopted for appropriate action by concerned stakeholders as a way of facilitating the smooth realisation of the lofty objectives of Nigerian national budgets:
That Government should strive to make the conduct of budget business transparent by involving all relevant stakeholders including members of the third sector in every stage of budgetary activities;That as an effective way of bridging the gulf between government spending and actual outcomes, efforts should be made to establish and institutionalise/legitimise an effective budget tracking and monitoring mechanism and that Government should design practicable and sustainable means of plugging leakages in the flow and management of resources as well as ensuring strict implementation of the provision of existing anti-graft/fiscal and financial legislations (e.g. Appropriation Acts, the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2007, the Public Procurement Act of 2007, the ICPC Act, the EFCC Act, etc) for the purpose of checkmating the menace and bringing culprits to book.
It was also resolved that Government should display strong political will to curb corruption by ensuring that cases of infringements and violations of fiscal and budgetary provisions are met with appropriate disciplinary penalties in accordance with the provisions of the relevant laws of the land;That Government should design an effective and sustainable public education and enlightenment programme for the purpose of sensitising key stakeholders and the general public on fiscal and budget processes.;That the Legislative arm should strengthen its oversight mechanism to ensure adequate implementation and deploy if necessary its powers to enforce compliance and punish violations/infringements;That Government should evolve a check and balance mechanism that would ensure fair, equitable, relevant and people-oriented prioritisation of projects, programmes and services in public budgeting.
That Government should encourage, support and provide the enabling environment for the effective operation of budget-focused Non State Actors (NSAs) and Advocacy Practitioners and their involvement in public budgeting activities with a view to strengthening budget monitoring process and increasing the level of public awareness on fiscal and budgetary matters;That Government should appropriate funds to support key stakeholders in the third sector community as a way of sustaining their involvement in the budget process as well as supporting their advocacy activities. ;That stakeholders should show more commitment and eschew nepotism as an effective way of stemming corruption.;That ICPC should widen the programme’s horizon by accommodating more Non-State-Actors (Organised Private Sector, Labour, Professional Bodies, NGOs, CSOs, CBOs, etc) from across the country and that that a passionate appeal be made to ICPC to transmit this Communiqué to all affected government agencies for necessary actions.
At the end of the Training Programme, participants passed a unanimous commendation on the Independent Corrupt Practices and Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for this novel initiative and made a passionate plea for the sustainability of the noble objectives of the programme.