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Wednesday, March 29, 2023

NGO Trains Evaluation Officers On Open Govt Partnership, FOI Compliance In Kaduna

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By Abdulwaheed Olayinka Adubi, Kaduna

Non Governmental Organisation under the aegies of Connected Development (CODE), has trained Monitoring and Evaluation Officers of Kaduna’s Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), and Local Government Areas (LGAs) on tenets and compliance with Open Government Partnership (OGP) and Freedom of Information (FOI).

Mr. Kingsley Agu, CODE’s Project Manager on Deepening Cizens’ Interest in Government Spendings and Addressing Accompanying Corrupt Practices (DeSPAAC), said the training was to ensure OGP in the grassroots and making available documents on request by citizens.

He said that the OGP, being a multilateral initiative, aimed to secure concrete commitments from national and sub-national governments, to promote open Government, empower citizens, fight corruption and harness new technologies to strengthen governance.

Agu added that the training was also part of their committment to provide capacity for M&E officers, where they had earlier met with elected LGAs chairmen and offered to train their officers, to enshrine OGP tenets in their activities.

He, however, said the FOI Act, not being domesticated in Kaduna State, had not affected their work of tracking constituency projects and universal basic education spendings.

“We have been requesting information, and the MDAs are always responsive,” he said.

He explained that when the M&E officers became aware of what the laws stated regarding release of information and OGP, it helped them to work better with the community members.

“For us, our goal is ensuring citizens participation so they can be part of governance.”

He noted that when the M&E officers were aware of their assigned duties, and also the position of the law in making information available to citizens, it would support the government in achieving its goals of development.

Agu also explained that the OGP would inform the M&E officers on planning, so they could get the views of citizens when carrying out needs assessments for project implementation across the state.

He called on the citizens, especially at LGAs, to use the FOI Act in getting information, to get the right data to track and monitor projects.

“It is the citizens’ responsibility to provide oversight on what government is doing.”

He also called on the LGAs in the state to start setting up OGP structures to ensure citizens’ full participation in project development and implementation.

A participant, Mr. Yarima Zakariyya, the M&E Officer of the state Planning and Budget Comission, said he had learned that the state was moving towards results based M&E, now a global trend.

He said Kaduna was one of the leading states regarding response to FOI to citizens, where the Planning and Budget had contributed immensely to responding effectively and timely to request by citizens.

Also, Mr. Joshua Yakubu, the Assistant Director Planning, Zangon Kataf LGA, said the training had exposed him more to the importance of citizens participation in government regarding enhancing accountability and transparency.

He said he understood the rudiments to apply in handling the citizens roles in budget process.

“I now understand better the role of M&E project implementation,” he said.

Regarding FOI, Yakubu said he had never had any official request from any community or organisation in the LGA, nor to the Chairman, seeking any information based on FOI.

He said a very large proportion of the citizens in Zangon Kataf were unaware of the FOI Act and how they could leverage on it to engage and hold the government accountable.

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