Governor Babatunde Fashola
In line with its citizens' engagement project, the Lagos State Civil Society Partnership (LACSOP) recently held a one-day tweets conference, which was aimed at strengthening leadership and accountability in governance on the 2013 Lagos State budget.
The conference, which took place via LACSOP twitter account twitter.com/LACSOP using Hashtag #LAGBUDGET, was designed to provide opportunity for stakeholders in Lagos to seek clarification through virtual dialogue on the specific direction of the state’s 2013 budget.
Speaking on the initiative, the Coordinator of LACSOP, Mr. Ayo Adebusoye, said “It is a platform for Lagos State Government and Lagosians to discuss the annual fiscal budget of the State in order to create a participatory process for an effective budget planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation”.
Addressing the gathering, State team leader for the State Accountability and Voice Initiative (SAVI), Mr. Felix Obanubi, said “It is a good thing this meeting took place today and the fact that it triggered the reactions of the citizens. It means it is an important thing and this is what we ought to do.
“If we are to echo the voice of the people and bridge the gap between the elected and the people, then we should find a way by which we create a platform whereby they can both communicate, this is what we have done,” he said.
“I think it’s about time we simplify this monster called the budget that scares everybody, and one of the ways we can do it is to make it simple so that everybody will be familiar with it. And it is another way of helping the government to be more transparent if indeed they say they are for good governance and they are transparent and are for the people.
“We need to push them a little bit. I feel if we push them a little it will do them a lot of good to ensure that they don’t have to play with time because time is money”, he said.
Obanubi further explained that this opened channel between the people and government would strive to continually make adequate provision of needed information to enable citizens better understand the government's intentions towards its citizens.
“SAVI is concerned with giving voice to the people, through advocacy partners like LACSOP”, he noted, stating that SAVI builds the capacity of the people to enable them understand their role as citizens and educate them on how they can participate in the process of governance and demand accountability from government.
The conference, which triggered a lot of reactions via tweets both from citizens and government representatives, was supported by SAVI and the Department for International Department (DfID). It attracted various media representatives and a large number of civil society organisations in Lagos state.
The tweets highlighted striking points on the Lagos State 2013 budget and tasked representatives of the government to respond to queries on the budget.
Adebusoye had earlier advised citizens to cultivate the culture and habit of asking questions on how the government is running the affairs of the state since, according to him, tax-payers money is expended during budget implementation.
LACSOP urged the Lagos government to endeavour to publish details of the 2013 fiscal budget online to facilitate citizens' participation at the next tweet conference. “For the budget vision to be actualised, both the government and the citizens have responsibilities to fulfil”, Adebusoye tweeted.
On Jan 22, 2013, the Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget, Mr. Ben Akabueze, presented the 2013 budget analysis to create awareness on it to enable Lagosians ask the right questions and support accountability in governance.
Reports showed the budget has grown steadily from N389.5 billion since 2010, to N499.6 billion this year. The present budget intends to focus on Power, Agric, Transport and Housing (PATH), and to reach this goal, the Lagos State Government has annual policy targets that can be found therein.
The budget also has what the Government called focal areas, including security, law and order, educational and vocational training, health, environment, governance, rural development, and water and skills acquisition/microfinance. The State’s appropriation bill, totalling N499.10 billion, was signed into law on December 31, 2012 by Governor Babatunde Fashola.