The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) thursday said it had concluded a nine-year programme aimed at improving the performance of state and local governments in Nigeria as well as increasing the involvement of civil society in the democratic process for the good of their communities.
USAID said since 2009, the Leadership, Empowerment, Advocacy and Development (LEAD) activity, in partnership with government ministers, departments and agencies, state legislatures, and civil society organisations (CSOs), had helped to build the capacity of state and local government institutions in Nigeria to assume greater responsibilities in delivering the basic services demanded by their constituents through training on leadership skills, and enhancing transparency and public accountability.
“LEAD has demonstrated that if engaged, ministries, departments and agencies of government charged with service delivery can work together with their civil society constituents for the good of their communities and their states,” USAID Mission Director Stephen M. Haykin said at a ceremony yesterday in Abuja to mark the feat. “[It] has made a significant contribution toward the U.S. and Nigerian governments’ shared objective of improving sub-national governance.”
USAID said in a statement that in Sokoto and Bauchi States, with later expansion to Kano and Rivers States, LEAD had helped local governments decentralise decision-making processes and promote citizen participation in government decision-making to ensure improved service delivery in critical sectors, such as health, education, and water and sanitation.
“LEAD provided technical support, mentoring and coaching to enhance the technical capacity of more than 6,000 government officials at the state and local government area levels in the four targeted states. This empowered LGA officials to better utilise strong institutional systems and processes for governance and service delivery, strategic policy development, project planning and implementation, personnel development, and financial management,” the statement said.
It said LEAD also supported hundreds of civil society organisations to co-formulate with local councils community-based strategic plans and priority setting, town hall meetings, service improvement plans, revenue improvement plans, gender policies and enhance state-level monitoring and evaluation policies.
“In Sokoto, community involvement in state level budget planning led to an increase in the education allocations from 17 per cent of the state’s budget in 2015 to 27 per cent in 2016, and it remains at that level. These increased budget allocations led to the employment of 2,000 teachers and the construction of and rehabilitation of classrooms. Other efforts resulted in strengthening primary health care centres and improved access to potable water for over 600,000 people in LEAD supported states,” USAID stated.