Driven by the need to strengthen citizen engagement and sensitize the citizenry on effective ways of engaging the government’s budget process, Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN) Commission, in partnership with BudgIT, a Civil Society Organisation that applies technology to simplify the budget and matters of public spending for citizens, with the primary aim of raising standard of transparency and accountability in government, organised a two-day Capacity Development Session for Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Southwest Nigeria.
The two-day workshop, held at the Aquatic Antique Hub, Asero, Abeokuta Ogun State, sought to deepen the knowledge of the CSO\'s on budget processes and how to engage with the region’s government for the purpose of impacting the budget process.
The concept of Open Government Partnership, OGP, was also dissected with a mind to advocate to the governments in the Southwest Region on the need to join the OGP community. It is our belief that with a better understanding of the Open Government Partnership as signed by the Federal Government in July 2016, the CSOs will better engage the various Governments on the need to sign up so as to fully incorporate citizens into governance process. This, in our view, will not only engender transparency and curb corruption but will also give the citizens a sense of belonging thereby enabling the people’s support for governments’ efforts to bring about development and growth.
Abiodun Oladipo, an Analyst on Good Governance and Inclusive Institutions at DAWN Commission, while making his presentation, enjoined the participants to see the workshop as an opportunity for Capacity Development in order to effectively engage the Governments of the States of Western Nigeria on budget process, particularly at the sub-national level. He noted that gaining and utilizing such expertise would lead to a more informed citizenry and an improved governance process.
The Lead Partner, BudgIT, Mr. Oluseun Onigbinde, also charged participants to position their organisations as partners with governments on citizen welfare. As the voice of the people, he admonished them to drop the adversarial approach of engaging with governments for consultative and collaborative method, so as to achieve the noble objectives of their organisations.
The participating CSOs were taught the technicalities involved in effectively engaging subnational budgets from the legislative and executive perspective. Questions bothering on how budget can reflect the actual desires and needs of the people were exhaustively addressed.
The concept of OGP was broken down to bits for participants who were made to understand the importance of such an idea to a democratic system as operates in Nigeria. And the OGP four thematic areas of fiscal transparency, access to information, citizen participation and public disclosure of assets that Nigeria signed on were exhaustively explained.
The assessment of OGP co-creation mechanism at the national level also formed an integral part of the sessions. The successes and failures were analysed for participants to learn and adapt in their engagement with sub-national governments.
Participants were also taken through the macro-economic trends, revenue and expenditure analysis and States financial status were analysed based on the data provided by BudgIT. This further broadened their knowledge of their different States budgets and how to appropriately engage subsequently.
The capacity development session featured group assignments that provided the participants a broader perspective to the lessons as well as collaborative opportunities in the future. The participating CSOs were charged to make commitments as to the next actionable steps.