2020 Budget: Impressive Turn out as Kaduna State Government Seeks Citizens Inputs on Draft Copy

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2020 Budget: Impressive Turn out as Kaduna State Government Seeks Citizens Inputs on Draft Copy
Zainab Tanimu
Kaduna, North-West, Nigeria
In a townhall meeting chaired by the Kaduna State Deputy Governor, Dr. Hadiza Balarabe accompanied by members of Kaduna State Cabinets, it was a floor for citizens to make their input before the final submission to the State House of Assembly.
The town hall meeting held at General Usman Hassan Katsina House, Kawo, had an impressive turn out as citizens came out to exercise their rights.
In her remark, Dr. Hadiza who represented the State Governor, Malam Nasir El-Rufai told those present at the town hall meeting that the reason for the public presentation of the draft copy of the 2020 budget estimate for inputs, observations and amendments  was part of government’s measures to ensure openess.
It is the fifth draft budget to be discussed at a town hall meeting, She stated. According to her, “the government has institutionalised consultations as part of its commitment to transparency and openness.
The draft 2020 Budget reflects the Putting People First priorities of the Kaduna State Government
 It considers it important therefore to obtain citizens views, comments and input before the draft budget estimates are transmitted to the Kaduna State House of Assembly.”
She explained.
“These were first outlined in the Restoration Programme, the Kaduna State specific iteration of the APC manifesto. We committed ourselves to the following:
“Invest in education, healthcare and social welfare foster the security of lives and property, institute a good governance system that is founded on a competent and responsive public service with zero tolerance for corruption.
“Maintain, rebuild and expand Infrastructure (water supply, electricity and road networks) to accelerate economic growth that will create jobs, jobs and more jobs; Promote agriculture and food security and reform of land administration as a basis for wealth creation and capital formation, while preserving and enhancing environmental management.
“These are the guiding principles of our governance agenda.
They explain our abiding commitment to Education, Health and Infrastructure. Education and Health are the principal components of human capital development. Investments in Infrastructure are critical to maintaining our competitiveness, supporting economic dynamism and promoting the well-being of our people.
“As the first full-year budget of the second term of this government, the 2020 budget is conceived to accelerate the attainment of our governance agenda.
We propose a budget size of N245.4bn. The capital component is N177.29bn, an unprecedented figure in absolute and percentage terms in the fiscal history of the state. With recurrent expenses set at N62.9bn, the 2020 budget, when approved, is projected to have a capital to recurrent ratio of 72%:28%.
“Most of the capital spending will be in the Economic Social Sectors, amounting to about N144bn. We propose to spend N68bn on Public Works and Infrastructure. As you are aware, we are implementing an urban renewal programme in Kaduna. This includes the construction of seven new roads and the upgrade of 14 others to improve connections within Kaduna metropolis. Similar projects are envisaged for our two other main cities, Kafanchan and Zaria.
“Capital expenditure on Education and Health are proposed at N33.9bn and N23.3bn, respectively. In the first term, this government doubled primary school enrolment, recruited 25,000 primary school teachers and began a programme of school renovation and rebuilding. But enormous challenges remain in upgrading 4,250 public primary schools and about 500 secondary schools.
” We inherited these schools in largely decrepit conditions. Many schools have no classroom furniture, and lack water and sanitation facilities. We will continue the patient work required to fix thousands of schools.
“In the Health sector, investments in primary health care will continue to be central to our programme to tackle maternal and infant mortality. We will also fast track the implementation of the Contributory Health Insurance Scheme.
“I will leave it to our able Commissioner for Planning and Budget to present the outlines of the draft Budget, the full text of which is available online on the Kaduna State Government website.
Before I do that, I will close my remarks with a quote from Malam Nasir El-Rufai:
“Our purpose in government is to promote equality of opportunity, to give every child the prospect of surviving pregnancy and infancy, with sound health, to absorb decent education and develop the skills to make the best of life. It is to ensure that pregnancy is not a death sentence for our women, and that they have access better life chances. It is to secure for our young people employment opportunities in a vibrant economy, regulated by a competent public service. It is about giving everyone a fair chance in the race of life! It about being for the people and seeking to empower them, not creating and exploiting dependency.”
” I hope that the discussions that will follow the Commissioner’s presentation will be profound, insightful and helpful in strengthening the draft budget proposals in the interest of our people.
Earlier in a press conference held at the Nigeria Union of Journalists Secretariat, 13 civil society organizations under the auspices of Concern Civil Society in Kaduna had raised concern over the 2020 Draft Budget Town Hall Meeting.
Speaking through of the team and Co-chair Technical Working Group of OGP, Barrister Rebecca Sako-John   such concerns expressed by the group were, that the government should give citizens the opportunities to make their inputs as that would give a fair representation of the people.
 Also was the issue of allowing town hall meetings at the zonal level instead of just one town hall meeting.
When the final budget is taken to the state assembly, it should take the form of public hearing for citizens to contribute. She said.
“People should come and make inputs and state how they have seen the implementation of the budget of last year.
That would inform the way they are going to address the budget.
They also call for the need for members on oversight functions to receive inputs from citizens when they are on oversight functions.
According to her, “so that they would also have an independent opinion and views of people who have monitored the implementation of the budget instead of just relying on only the MDA’s who come and do budget defense.
Kaduna state, barrister Rebecca informed recently was ranked number one in Nigeria on transparency and openness as a result of governance reform initiatives that is driven under the umbrella of the Open Government Partnership (OGP).
Kaduna State is the first sub-national to sign onto the OGP at the national and global level; which commits the government to co-create key decisions on governance with the civil society as equal partners. She added.
The commitment on open budget states according to her,  ‘ensures more effective citizen’s participation in the entire budget cycle’; which means that through-out the budget process, there should be evidence of citizens informing and influencing budgetary decisions.
Without doubt, much progress has been made in opening up spaces for citizens to engage in the budget process.”
Amongst the 13 civil society organisations present were the Concerned Civil Society, OGP Civil Society Steering Committee Co-Chairs, Aid Foundation, Campaign For Democracy, Coalition of Association for Leadership, Peace, Empowerment and Development (CALPED),  Initiative for Collective Voice Accountability and Progress (ICoVAP Africa),  
Others are, Legal Awareness for Nigeria Women (LEADS-NIG).  BridgeThat Gap Initiatives, FollowTaxes, Association for Promotion of Parliamentary Relations (APPAR), Hope for Community & Children, Afaka Youth Assembly, and Open Kaduna Radio.