BudgIT, a civic organisation, on Tuesday canvassed the need for transparency and openness in the implementation of local government projects in the country.
The group noted that lots of funds were usually allotted yearly for capital expenditure yet capital projects remained undone or uncompleted, thereby giving room for critical gaps in infrastructural development in the country.
The civil society organization, that applies technology to intersect citizen engagement with institutional improvement, to facilitate societal change, pointed out that the Local Government Areas (LGAs), being the third tier of government were created with the ultimate goal of bringing governance closer to the people at the grassroots.
It lamented that despite their strategic position in national development, the LGAs had not lived up to expectation in their operations due to interference by state governors.
Specifically, it stated that as at today, only nine states had signed the Local Government Autonomy Bill into law while doing so in some states had been hampered as the governors still interfere with their finances.
BudgIT observed further that the local government chairmen were usually handpicked by state governors who in turn dictate their operations and also prevent them from getting their allocations directly from the Federal Government and this has resulted to a total collapse of local government administration in Nigeria.
However, the civil society group pointed out that that the narrative was slightly different in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) with the Abuja Municipal Area Council raised the bar of transparency and accountability in local government administration in the country.
According to the group, the Council is the first to release the council’s 2018 budget in the Federal Capital Territory while Kwali and Abaji Area Councils have since followed suit by releasing their 2018 budget to the public.
BudgIT noted further that the DEAN initiative, which is dedicated to transparency and accountability in local government administration in Nigeria, also deserved some credit for ensuring these area councils release their budget to the public.
This is even as it reported that Tracka extended its tracking activities to Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) with the aim of making the budget available to the citizens at the grassroots, track the implementation of the council’s 2018 budget, and also build the capacity of the citizens on public finance, especially budget matters, thus enabling them own the projects and actively track implementation of capital projects in their community.
BudgIT reported further: “Tracka is also working with community-based organisations and religious and traditional leaders in various communities in Abuja Municipal Area Council.
“Furthermore, Tracka has also identified and built the capacity of our community champions to make citizens continuously demand for service delivery from their representatives.
“The Tracka team has visited 35 communities to track the implementation of a total of 42 capital projects captured in the council’s 2018 budget.
“Out of the 42 capital projects tracked, 22 projects have been completed, 14 projects are ongoing, and the implementation of 6 projects are yet to commence as at the time of this report”, it added.
The civil group noted that the commitment of the Abuja Municipal Area Council budget implementation feat was commendable when compared with other local government councils across the country.