(A cross section of participants at one day PERL/Media training workshop in Kaduna on Thursday)
//Godwin Ekosin, Kaduna, Northwest Nigeria//
A non-governmental organization known as Partnership to Engage, Reform and Learn (PERL) is engaging critical stakeholders including Kaduna-based practising journalists on budget planning, tracking and implementation to ensure effective service delivery with tax payers hard earned monies.
Some of the grey areas the meeting agreed that parliamentarians needed to improve on include unnecessary bureaucracy and redtapism to budget document and discussions by the media, openness, simplicity, centralised monitoring team, effective oversight functions among others.
PERL is a programme that works with government and civil society at federal and state levels to reduce inefficiency and corruption in the use of Nigerian resources and therefore improve delivery of services including women, girls and persons with disability by a way of partnering with other DFID programmes supporting service delivery by helping Nigerian stakeholders improve accountability for use of resources including improving processes for raising revenue, allocating resources, planning and programme implementation.
At a roundtable participatory capacity building held at ASA PYRAMID HOTEL, Kaduna on Thursday, the NGO decried wide gap that exist between the lawmakers in Kaduna State and the media due to inadequate knowledge of how budget is planned and implemented by executive and parliament thereby leaving the general public in total darkness.
This ignoramus sense of responsibility have in no small measures making Nigerians lost confidence and not believing in government projects until when they see one coming up in their neighbourhood and sometimes, don’t even know who is financing it, all due to insufficient relevant information gathering, processing and disseminating on the part of the media who are saddled with such responsibility.
To carry the general populace who are beneficiaries of public projects along, Head, Centre for Defence Studies and Documentation, NDA, Professor Usman A. Tar, want partnership between the lawmakers and the media with particular call on the media to embark on constant personal oversight in form of deep investigative journalism with a view to holding people in government accountable to the electorate and tax payers.
Also, a PERL Consultant, Ali Maje sought healthy monitoring of projects whether constituency or general ones during the State House of Assembly oversight or personal oversight with single purpose of ensuring qualitative implementation within the budget framework.
The central anchor, John Mutu – Parliamentary Engagement Adviser with PERL-ECP wants media practitioners to engage people at the helm of affairs from time to time adding that, journalists should be able to get some of information via Kaduna State Government website including the budget documents which will give them ample opportunity to know which project is been awarded, the cost, location and the name of the contractor handling such project.
He believed that will go a long way in educating the general public which will then improve participation in government projects.
Most of journalists in attendance who were drawn from electronics, print and online media promised to step up their investigative journalism to bring the govern and the governed together on the same page for the betterment of the country especially in Kaduna State.
Budget on many occasions is a unified document containing step-by-step implementation process of campaign promises by substantive government especially at a given period of time usually a year, in a democratic settings like Nigeria and the only way to measure its success or failure is close planning, tracking and implementation which media play a key role.