By Philip Yatai
Gov. Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State, on Tuesday inaugurated the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Steering Committee for the full implementation of the initiative in the state.
El-Rufai explained that the state keyed into the initiative to address negative citizens’ perception about government and its activities in the state.
The governor inaugurated the committee in Kaduna after the commencement of a two-day workshop to develop the state OGP Action Plan.
He recalled that a citizen perception survey carried out in 2015 with support from UKAID, showed that most people had lost confidence and trust in government.
“It was to correct the anomalies in governance and ensure that the people who are the ultimate key stakeholders in determining how their resources should be utilized that the state government indicated interest to join OGP.
“Today I am happy that Kaduna State has now fully joined the OGP.
“This partnership will further entrench the commitment of Kaduna state government in area of fiscal responsibility, access to information and citizens’ engagement.”
According to him, the State Development Plan 2016-2020 was developed after due consultations with the citizens and private sector, while CSOs were also involved in the preparations and implementation of the state budget.
The governor disclosed that the administration had also developed a Citizens Feedback App for project monitoring.
El-Rufa’i urged civil society organisations participating in the workshop to develop a comprehensive implementable plan that would benefit the people.
In a remark, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, appreciated the Kaduna state government for being the first to sign into the OGP at the sub-national level.
“I also commend the state government for setting the pace and initializing several reforms in the area of good governance that have enhanced service delivery and infrastructural development in the state,” Malami said.
The minister disclosed that reasonable progress has been made by the Federal Government since it commenced implementation of the OGP National Action Plan in January 2017.
Earlier, the state’s Commissioner for Budget and Planning, Muhammad Abdullahi, explained that the OGP was a platform for governments to be more open, accountable and responsive to citizens.
“We have subscribed to the OGP in order to improve on our transparency, accountability and citizens participation with a view to attract foreign investment and funding.”
He urged participants at the workshop to design implementable action plan that reflects the yearnings and desires of the people.
On his part, Mr Edetaen Ojo, Co-Chairman, OGP Nigeria, said that as a pioneer, Kaduna state holds the key to the success of OGP at the state level in the country.
Ojo stressed that the concept of equal partnership between government and CSOs was essential to OGP implementation.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the state steering committee is headed by the Commissioner for Budget and Planning, with CSOs and government officials as members.
NAN reports that the state subscribed to seven of the 14 commitment areas of the OGP.
The areas include ensuring citizens’ participation in budget circle, open contracting, common reporting standard, promoting ease of doing business and improving compliance with Freedom of Information Act.
The rest are developing permanent dialogue mechanism on transparency, accountability, and good governance with citizens and adopting technology-based citizens’ feedback on government projects and programmes. (NAN