A new leadership practice, culture and governance style that will guarantee citizens participation in the budgeting process has been advocated at different levels of government in Nigeria.
This is in a bid to ensure equitable allocation and distribution of resources to priority areas that are often neglected.
At a one-day training centred on “Participatory Governance: Empowering Citizens for Good Governance” participants maintained that with the developing information and communication technology; governance in the country could no longer be ‘business as usual’ if government must endear the people to itself.
Addressing participants who were mostly drawn from Local Government Areas in Lagos State, the Deputy Director, Community Life Project, (CLP), Mr Chuks Ojidoh stated that a paradigm shift leading to citizens’ participation in governance would bring about quicker pace
Mr Ojidoh added that the situation would further promote real democracy, community togetherness and transparency as well as accountability to the people.
“In the present digital environment, the local government should be more open; secrecy can no longer be assumed as possible, it has to be people-centred and there should be a strong partnership between the government and the civil society as the number and diversity of stakeholders demanding to be part of decision-making process is growing,” he said.
The CLP Deputy Director then suggested the Porto Alegre model of participatory budgeting, which greatly assisted the Brazilian city to improve its human development indices.
Some of the participants later went into brainstorming sessions after being divided into various groups to identify the challenges faced in budgeting process.
Part of the problems pointed out includes corruption, lack of political will on the part of elected representatives, cultural issues and ignorance of existing participatory frameworks as well as lack of exposure on the part of the people.
However, the participants spoke in unison that the knowledge garnered in the course of the training would greatly impact on local government administration vis-à-vis budget processing, stressing that efforts would be made to sensitise the people on the need to
be actively involved in the way they are being governed.