CSOs Explain A’Ibom State Assembly Budget Hearing Boycott

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The guild of civil society organisations (CSOs) in Akwa Ibom State yesterday explained why they boycotted the 2023 budget hearing held at the State House of Assembly.

The guild claimed that its member organisations resolved to boycott the hearing following the non-consideration of their valuable contributions during budget hearing in the previous years.

In a statement by its chairman, Harry Udoh yesterday, the guild regretted that their contributions were only received and later discarded.

The statement said the participation of the CSOs at the previous hearings was just to fulfil all righteousness, saying even if citizen-recommended projects and needs were captured in the budget they get zero allocations.

The statement said: “When they do eventually get allocations in subsequent years, they are marred with lack of releases to implement such citizens input.

It said in part: “Every successive year, our inputs and contributions on what should be and should not be in the budget are only received and then studiously ignored, no matter how germane the points we make. It would seem that civil society participation has become just to ‘fulfill all righteousness.

“After careful consideration, we like to respectfully inform you that the guild has decided not to participate in deliberations of this public hearing and further public hearings until a noticeable improvement and commitment is made to ensure that the inputs collated through all channels of inclusions, submitted and presented at public hearings get the budgetary attention they deserve.”

It noted that a year-by-year analysis of the Auditor General’s report and Citizens Accountability Report showed a disproportionate relationship between the citizen-recommended projects/needs included in the budget, and projects/needs that got actual releases.

It lamented over poor capital releases to key service delivery sectors such as Education, Health and WASH noting and that Mid-year review of implementation of 2022 budget showed very low releases to education two percent; health one percent and WASH zero percent.

It, therefore, called for a public hearing that would accommodate the contributions of CSOs leading to the production of an Appropriation bill and Budget performance that is responsive to the needs and priorities of citizens as a democratic and constitutional right.

It also called for documentation of inputs made by citizens at all levels of public consultation and sincere inclusion of CSOs in budget preparation and implementation through a verifiable criteria that explains how citizens-nominated projects that gets budget allocation and releases are selected and included as a feedback mechanism in the Citizens Accountability Report.

It further said that Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) mechanism for the selection of projects should be clearly spelt out, investigated, and leveraged for increasing the selection of citizens’ projects.

While pledging that the body will continue to play an intermediary role in bringing people’s voices and opinions to public policies, the statement stressed that the forum would continually distance itself from subsequent public hearings if government remain insincere in their dealings.

It also called for documentation of inputs made by citizens at all levels of public consultation and sincere inclusion of CSOs in budget preparation and implementation through a verifiable criteria that explains how citizens-nominated projects that gets budget allocation and releases are selected and included as a feedback mechanism in the Citizens Accountability Report.

It further said that Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) mechanism for the selection of projects should be clearly spelt out, investigated, and leveraged for increasing the selection of citizens’ projects.

While pledging that the body will continue to play an intermediary role in bringing people’s voices and opinions to public policies, the statement stressed that the forum would continually distance itself from subsequent public hearings if government remain insincere in their dealings.

 

Editorial

This story amongst others are reviewed on Sparkling 92.3FM. Again, personal opinions expressed on NegroidHaven are exclusively the author’s not NH’s.