By Joy Gadani
Community development equals national development and the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
However, for Community Development Champions (CDC) in Kaduna, grassroots development is attainable where all relevant stakeholders are willing to collaborate and support the process and concept of participatory governance.
Since Kaduna State joined the Open Government Partnership (OGP) in 2018, the number of reforms recorded in the state have been acknowledged both at the national and global levels, with Kaduna State being a reference point for many states in Nigeria in the area of policy implementation, reforms attained, transparency and accountability, and development successes.
But the prospects for greater results in development will be a mirage if the momentum is not maintained and working relationship between government, citizens and the media sustained and improved.
These were the concerns raised by participants at the just concluded two-day technical session held in Kaduna, organized by Partnership to Engage, Reform and Learn (PERL), in collaboration with the Kaduna State Local Government Accountability Mechanism (KADLGAM).
Addressing these concerns, Mr Abel Adejor, State Team Lead, PERL, was of the opinion that citizens contribution to the reforms recorded in Kaduna State cannot be ignored, and that the result of the commitment for sustained participation of citizens in governance has influenced the creation of the Citizens Demand Platform (www.citizensdemand.org) and the Kaduna Citizens Feedback App (available on google play store) by a pro-development citizen.
These innovative solutions were developed to bridge the information and communication gaps in the collection, documentation and monitoring of community needs based on the Community Demand Charter.
Acknowledging these successes, members and representatives of various LGAs in Kaduna highlighted their immediate and long-term needs which will not only promote fiscal transparency and accountability in governance, but ensure that the processes are founded on mutual respect and acceptance by citizens and government.
Comrade Abdul Bako Usman, the Local Government Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (LFTAS) Programme focal person from Kaduna North LGA stated that they have recorded a number of successes at the LGA, influencing a grant award of about 8 million naira in the LGA.
However, there have been gaps in work synergy since the recent change in governance.
Stating his concerns, Comrade Bako said the issues around townhalls, documentation processes, and citizens engagement at the LGA was suffering and then called on all LGA Chairmen to abolish all forms of party politics currently limiting effective citizens participation and impeding the success of the LFTAS Programme objective. “We need to build a synergy like other local governments have done, because when it comes to issues of documentation, there are incentives like laptops, providing smart phones will help Community Development Champions at the LGAs to track and report issues like absenteeism by health care workers and teachers at primary schools at the community levels among other aspects of the LFTAS Programme.
He stated that previous results recorded at the LGAs must not be allowed to fall short of development plan and the continuity agenda of the present government.
Joshua WA. Yakubu, the Assistant Director Planning, and Focal Person LFTAS Zango Kataf LGA also affirmed that weak cooperation even within the LGA between political office holders and civil servants is a barrier to achieving sustainable development through service delivery. “I will recommend that the Ministry for Local Government and the Planning and Budget Commission should engage very well with the leadership of all the Local Governments to give them necessary support as the LFTAS Programme is not just about service delivery, but a means of generating revenue to the LGAS”
. According to him, the previous LFTAS assessment helped LGAs generate revenues, and for Zango Kataf LGA, they made about 7.7 million as a result of the LFTAS Programme, adding that the amount is above the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) in the LGA.
Summing up their demands and recommendations, participants highlighted the need for; full sensitization of LGA Chairmen on the LFTAS Programme, while the finance and budget division be made a standalone department in all the 23 LGAs of the state, maximize and embrace technology for engagement and development by citizens and government.
An advocacy strategy tool that will direct and sustain LFTAS Programme and activities was developed by Participants to end the Session.