On the 28th June, 2019, Lere local government council in view of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) and Local Government Fiscal Transparency, Accountability & Sustainability (LFTAS) program organized a one day 2019 quarterly budget performance review town-hall meeting with stakeholders held at the Saminaka Resort, Lere local government area, Kaduna state. The aim of the town-hall meeting was to publicly present the revenue and expenditure performance of the local government in the first and second quarter of this year, and get wider feedback of critical stakeholders. The meeting had in attendance stakeholders drawn from traditional institutions, religious leaders, all political parties, elected officeholders, community development associations, various unions, women and youth groups, civil society networks, local government staff, contractors and media.
This was geared towards achieving the following objectives:
deepen the understanding of stakeholders on local government reforms ongoing especially the local government development plan, community development plan and LFTAS;
publicly present the 2019 budget implementation report in line with the principles of OGP and LFTAS indicator on systematic tracking of budget implementation;
generate feedback from stakeholders and agree on next steps to improve the budget implementation process in Lere local government area;
strengthen the culture of transparency, accountability, citizen’s engagement and quality of service delivery in Lere local government area.
As a result of the speeches, presentations and feedback from stakeholders a number of far-reaching observations and resolutions were reached.
The following are the observations made in the course of the town-hall meeting:
the meeting was not only timely but historic – as in the history of the local government, no council has ever publicly presented her budget implementation report to stakeholder for feedback; this demonstrated high political will and commitment to transparency and accountability by the council Chairman;
stakeholders displayed high level of enthusiasm and excitement as their government is being accountable for the resources entrusted to them on their behalf;
with evidence on display, since the inception of the present council, there has never been the unprecedented execution of projects within a one year period, in this case about one hundred and eight (108) projects at a cost of over five hundred million naira (N500,000,000.00);
stakeholders confirmed the existence and completion of some of these projects in their various wards in line with the Community Development Charter (CDC) that informed the 2019 budget;
without the enabling environment created by his Excellency Mallam Nasir Ahmed Elrufai, through initiating strategic and people-focused governance reforms both at the state and local government level, what happened at the town-hall meeting would have been impossible or rather just a wishful dream;
to the credit of the state government, the present local government council met on ground various far-reaching ongoing local government reforms that were designed to strengthen proper planning, budgeting, transparency, accountability, citizens’ engagement and quality service delivery in Kaduna state in general and local governments in particular;
as a result of the commitment demonstrated by the Chairman and his council, Lere local government has pioneered a number of reforms such as being the first to localize the Open Government Partnership (OGP), first to set-up a technical working group made up of equal number of government and civil society, first to develop a Website with the budget and development plan uploaded, one of the best performing local government during the assessment of the Local Government Fiscal Transparency, Accountability & Sustainability (LFTAS) program among the 23 local governments of Kaduna state;
the council has focused more on the social sector because of the strong belief that the people of Lere local government deserve quality education and healthcare. Infrastructure and agriculture are other critical areas that have not also been neglected;
the council has demonstrated her resolve to put the people first; through allocating the scarce resources, not in the hands of a few privileged political class, but to people-centered projects and programs;
shortage of revenue generation has constituted one of the biggest challenges that is presently limiting the capacity of the council to deliver more projects in the local government;
the civil society partners in the local government have so far been carried along in line with the principle of Open Government Partnership, with safe spaces being created for permanent dialogue with the council towards improving service delivery;
the leading opposition party in the local government applauded the Executive Chairman for being courageous enough to publicly present the budget implementation report, first of its kind; which demonstrates transparency, accountability and performance.
As a result of the laudable evidence presented at the town-hall meeting, stakeholders gave a vote of confidence on the Executive Chairman, Lere local government council, Abubakar Buba for the giant strides so far in terms of delivering the dividends of democracy to the people;
the civil society partners in Lere local government after receiving the list of 108 executed projects resolved to embark on an independent assessment and develop a score-card;
also, the civil society partners promised to continue to support and effectively hold the council accountable towards that the government work with and for the good people of Lere local government;
stakeholders called to order political entrepreneurs within and outside the local government to desist from blackmailing and distracting the Executive Chairman; because they no longer have the space to access and divert contracts to the detriment of the people;
stakeholders agreed to work closely with the council to ensure improvement in internal revenue generation, so that more projects can be delivered to the good people of Lere local government area.
Coalition of Civil Society Lere local government area
Shuaibu A. Garu
Special Adviser, Administration, Chairman Lere local government
Yusuf Ishaku Goje
Coalition of Associations for Leadership, Peace, Empowerment & Development (CALPED)
Hon. Ahmed Yahaya Lere
Secretary, Lere local government council