*Appeals for more Citizens’ Input
A Civil Society Organisation, Development and Integrity Intervention Goals Foundation has called on the lawmakers in Ebonyi State to be more responsive and responsible in prioritizing the need of the people.
The foundation made this known during a Bi-Annual Constituency Legislative Interface which focused on key constituency issues, service delivery and public policies.
The Executive Executive Director DIG Chief Ajah Oliver-Chima, explained that essence of the meeting is to engage lawmakers, stakeholders and citizens to actively participate in budget process with the focus on 3 key sectors, which include Health, Education as well as Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, (WASH).
The programme supported by the United State Agency for Development (USAID)– funded State Accountability, Transparency and Effectiveness (State2State) aim at sensitizing the people on the importance of citizens’ input in governance.
He decried the ineffectiveness of the legislative arm in the State, stating that the people have failed to hold the public office holders accountable for their negligence, thus the need for citizens’ input in budget is imperative.
Speaking, Chima stressed on the need for citizens’ input in the 2023 budget, maintaining that citizens should be actively involved in the budget process, by knowing the needs of their communities and channeling their demands properly to the appropriate channel during the budget process.
He however, revealed that through various engagement with stakeholders, there have been progress recorded in citizens’ input but more still needs to be done to achieve overall success.
Stating “the essence of this program is to ensure that there is a legislative influence in the 2023 budget proposal. It is called constituency legislative interface: bringing the people and the legislators together to interface around issues of public service delivery and policies that affect the people.
“Our target is to see a responsive and responsible legislature that sees the people’s needs as a priority starting from the local government to State Legislative Councils.”
“Before now, the gap between the citizens and the people representing them was so wide, and that’s what we are working to bridge and we are making progress. As it is today in Ebonyi State, we have recorded some success stories.
“In the Ministry of Finance today, if any MDA doesn’t capture the citizens’ input in their budget, they will be turned back during the bilateral discussion.
“Now, through our Citizens’ Charter of Demand project, we have succeeded in inputting some items into the budget from the MDAs running up to Three Hundred Million Naira.
“We are making sure to ensure that if the budget is approved, we can proudly say that we have succeeded in capturing citizens input in the 2023 budget” Chima explained.
According to Chima, there should be a constant forum where citizens could talk and prioritise their problems based on the needs of the whole community, he attributed the progress of the foundation to the ready resource and logistics support from USAID State2State.
Stakeholders at the meeting drawn from the relevant government Ministries Departments and Agencies, including Finance, Education, Health and Environment; local government and State Legislative arms and other partner CSOs applauded the development calling for sustained action.
One of the participants, and the Deputy Clerk on Legal drafting, Ebonyi State House of Assembly, Mrs Cecilia Nwankwegu, assured that the outcome of the interface would be taken to the appropriate Quarters.
She also assured that the relevant Civil Society Organisations in the State would be invited during public hearing on the budget by the House of Assembly.