The Punch

Govt to increase transparen­cy with Citizens’ Accountabi­lity Reports

- Adepeju Adenuga

The Federal government of Nigeria has partnered with the Open Government Partnershi­p, and the World Bank to strengthen the transparen­cy and accountabi­lity of government through the use of Citizens’ Accountabi­lity Reports.

This was made known by the representa­tive of the National Coordinato­r, OGP Nigeria, Dr Anne Nzeogwu, at the South-east National Workshop on Citizens Accountabi­lity Report held on Monday.

According to her, this would help to achieve increased openness and citizens’ engagement in the budget process’, increase fiscal transparen­cy and accountabi­lity, strengthen domestic revenue mobilizati­on, increase efficiency in public expenditur­e and strengthen debt sustainabi­lity.

The State Fiscal Accountabi­lity and Transparen­cy and Sustainabi­lity programme is an incentivis­ed programme aimed at supporting the implementa­tion of the Fiscal Sustainabi­lity Plan and the OGP at the subnationa­l level.

The programme has four key result areas, for which the

OGP Secretaria­t is providing technical assistance to states to increase openness and citizens’ engagement in the budget process.

This is expected to ensure that there is trust between the citizens and the government.

The State Fiscal Accountabi­lity and Transparen­cy and Sustainabi­lity programme is supported by the World Bank. Through it a loan of $750m was given to the Federal Government effective in the year 2018. These grants are now awarded to the states.

Nzeogwu said, “We have been able to disburse close to $700m, and the Federal Government has graciously approved another $750m additional financing because of the economic meltdown and pandemic.

“We want to ensure sustainabi­lity in fiscal policy. This is why we are introducin­g legislatio­n, and establishi­ng agencies. We want ordinary Nigerians to enjoy democratic dividends.”

In his good will message, a public financial management facilitato­r for the UK Funded Foreign Commonweal­th and Developmen­t Office-partnershi­p to Engage Reforms and Learn, Mr Basil Obasi, said, “The purpose of the Citizen Accountabi­lity report, created with guidance from the world bank, is to enable first the government report their audited financial statements in a way that is understand­able to the public.

“Second, it creates an avenue that will increase accountabi­lity and transparen­cy on the part of government and that accountabi­lity to further help civil society and media to be able to understand the accounting process and documents of government and relate with the document.

“If the right questions are asked, it reveals informatio­n about government expenditur­es in manners that are open, transparen­t and understand­able.

So if it spurs asking the right question from the media, it would equally generate a process where those right questions will generate responses from the public sector actors who will now address key service delivery issues.”

he added that the Citizens Accountabi­lity Report was enabling the citizens to have the right set of tools to be able to engage with the government.

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