The International Press Centre (IPC) has tasked government at all levels in the country on the need for citizens to participate in budget planning and processing as a means of promoting transparency to enhance social welfare among other needs for a better living of the masses and the society at large.
This call was disclosed at a one-day forum â€˜Open Budgetâ€™ organised by the Centre under the programme â€˜Strengthening Citizens Engagement in Electoral Processâ€™ (SCEEP) with the support of ActionAid Nigeria and UKAID through the Department of International Development (DfID) titled â€˜Advancing Citizens Participation in the Budget Implementation Process of Lagos Stateâ€™ recently held in Lagos.
Speaking at the recent programme, the Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC), Lanre Suraju said it was the right of every citizen to participate in the budget planning process to recover the achievement expected and contribute to the development of his/her community.
He explained that for budget processing and planning to have good effect on the society, it must go through preparation, implementation, appropriation, consideration, conception, approval, monitoring and evaluation which should involve citizensâ€™ participation and contribution where government would ensure the needs of the people are provided.
He included that participation without transparency risks being ineffective if demands and debates around budgets are based on limited information, affirming that the roles of citizens are to monitor policies and programmes; engage government; advocate for inclusion and effective administration; and exercise sovereignty and constitutionalism.
Suraju stressed that citizens holding government responsible or accountable was not the best option but that they also participate in the budget planning process, ensure confrontation of demand, and monitor the project done as promised.
He noted that the opportunity cost of projects is the priority of good governance where every citizen should understand their roles in contributing to budget processing and planning.
Also, an official of the Women Advocate, Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC), Mrs. Kuti Folake called on the government to start the practice of gender budgeting by including it in every yearâ€™s budget, and explained further that gender budgeting allows the involvement of proper women welfare.
She said poverty wears a womanâ€™s face because their major responsibility on earth is of carrying pregnancy among others important roles, saying women needs should be more than men as their situations are different even while they are recognised as the same citizens.
â€œGender budgeting have impact on every citizens which will promote equality and realisation of women’s rightâ€, Folake added.
She mentioned that gender budgeting is already being practiced in some countries such as India, Australia, Switzerland, City of Berlin, Rwanda, Uganda, South Africa and Tanzania, which have bridged the lines of inequality in the societies, and therefore WARDC was advocating for gender budgeting in Nigeria.
The programme â€˜Open Budgetâ€™ was organised to give communities more support and enlightenment on the ongoing communities development in six local government areas in Lagos such as Mainland, Surulere, Amuwo-Odofin, Shomolu, Ikorodu and Ifako-Ijaiye.
Also, the summary analysis of key sectoral budgeting provisions of the Lagos State 2017 budget on projects and budget proposal affecting the six community areas was presented by budget official, Ilevbaoje Uadamen Imoukhuede.