A non-governmental organisation known as Partnership to Engage, Reform and Learn – Engage Citizens Pillar (PERL-ECP) in collaboration with Young African Leaders Institute (YALI) on Monday began a 2-day capacity building for community-based monitors from the 23 local government areas of Kaduna state on budget monitoring.
The participants are groups of young persons across the 23 LGAs of the state who are conscious of social media and can use same platform to influence good governance within and outside their immediate communities.
The training according to State Partnership Facilitator, PERL-ECP, Mustapha Kurfi, become necessary considering the low citizens’ engagement with government budgets in the state even when they are readily accessible through internet.
He further said, “we want to move from the usual idea of teaching in halls to practicability of the theory by way of visiting the places the projects are cited in our communities for improved implementation.
“The training is very important because the state government is more open but the citizens are yet to take full advantage of that to engage their policymakers through evidence-based reports from the field.
“If you look at government’s website, majority of those that engage with the budget are not even from the state and that is not encouraging. So, we want to see how we can improve on that by training the trainers who will go back to their various communities to train others.
“Earlier, we have engaged LG budget officers as well as community development officers and now the citizens groups so their can be effective engagement of government processes at local government level especially with the advent of technology.
“So basically, we are looking at how to bring the government and citizens together so their can be unity of purpose and with that, more dividends of democracy will reach everyone no matter your geographical locations”, he added.
Programme Officer, Aid Foundation, Faleye Usman said, the objective of the training was to build a strong force of monitors from all local government areas of Kaduna State saying, the workshop will take them on budget monitoring and how they can get budget document especially through internet.
To Usman, “we are using the platform to increase the usage of the “Kaduna Citizen Platform” where there will be effective engagement on budget processes and implementation.”
State Chairman, Campaign for Democracy, Kabir Wushishi, who represented Kaduna North LGA described the training as eye opener on budget tracking and evaluation.
“As at today, which is day one of the training, I have been able to differentiate between federal, state and local government budget and project in my community and I’m sure, by the time we will be through with field tour on Tuesday, I will be able to repeat the process on my own”, Kabir stressed.
Also speaking, another participant from Giwa LGA, Asiya Adamu, expressed optimism that, there is hope for Nigeria, “what we have here is unprecedented number of projects monitors at grassroots and that shows there is hope for Nigeria.
“There is hope for Nigeria in the sense that, we are young people. We use one social media platform or the other to express ourselves. So, instead of sharing just jokes and our beautiful photographs on social media, we can actually use that strength to better our communities.
“But then, we can only do that effectively when we are well equipped and that is one thing I’m taking away from this training even when we still have one day to go”, she said.