Thirteen Civil Society Organisations in Kaduna State on Thursday urged the state government to stop holding what they call, politicised town hall meetings on preparations for the 2020 budget.
The 13 CSOs, under Open Government Partnership Civil Society State Steering Committee and Technical Working Group, gave the advice at a news briefing in Kaduna, saying government should meet with stakeholders that have taken time to analyze the budget and collated Community Development Charter of the 23 local government of the state to deepen inputs into the budget document.
The Chairperson of technical commitee, Mrs Rebecca Sako said the CSOs also want the government to hold the town hall meetings in the three senatorial zones to ensure more effective citizens participation in line with its commitment on open budget.
Sako said the state Planning and Budget Commission in collaboration with the OGP technical working group on open budget should be assigned the responsibility of organising the town hall meetings to meet up with the target date.
According to her, the government has been holding town hall meetings on the budget with little or no civil society consultation or consensus, contrary to the letters and spirit of the OGP.
“This comes after initial change of plan which was to hold across the 23 local government areas, and then it was changed to three senatorial zones, before the recent unilateral decision to hold it in one location.”
The group called on the Kaduna State House of Assembly, as the direct representatives of the people, to lobby the executive arm of the government to ensure they have a truly citizens-driven budget.
“We call on the Assembly to, in the spirit of OGP approve an appropriation and sectoral committee public hearing to allow their constituents and informed civil societies to present their analysis and input for consideration into the budget.
“The Assembly should open its doors to regular citizens engagement especially in carrying out her oversight functions towards ensuring improved service delivery and living standard of residents of the state, ” Sako said.
The CSOs, however, commended the government for postponing the 2020 budget town hall meeting which was slated for today,
“We assure you that we are open and willing to support the government towards ensuring inclusive governance in Kaduna state,” she said.
The town hall meeting has been rescheduled to Saturday, October 12.