S/East NGOs seek bill on community participation in budgeting

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IN pursuance of the initiative of community participation in government budgets, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the South East zone are moving to sponsor a bill to ensure that governors in the zone capture the needs of communities in budget presentations. 

The proposed bill, which will be presented to each state of the five Houses of Assembly, will require communities to determine what they want in the budget, while monitoring the implementation. 

On Thursday in Umuahia, Abia State, a non-governmental organization, Hope Givers Initiative (HOG-I ), with support from Voice to the People (V2P) project, met with stakeholders to work out the institutionalization of the Community Charter of Demand (CCD) and a bottom-top approach to governance.

The one-day regional reflection meeting with Community Empowerment Network (COMEN) and others was to share experiences and identify strategies towards enhancing participatory and good governance in the South East.

As a committee was set up to prepare the CCD bill, the Executive Director, HOG-I, Mrs. Onyeaka Udegbunam, noted that there was a compelling need to entrench the CCD framework for governments in the zone in capturing the needs of their communities in the budget.

 Udegbunam explained that “there is a need for each state House of Assembly in the South East to pass into law a bill to implement the CCD approach to governance.” She claimed that Anambra State was already implementing the CCD, and  “the benefits are enormous.”Of the five states in the zone, only Imo, which recently resolved to embrace the initiative, had resisted all entreaties to adopt CCD.

 Abia State has deployed the structure of the Age Grade system in its adoption of CCD, while Enugu has the Visit Every Community (VEC). Ebonyi, like Anambra has fully embraced the CCD.

Hon. Victor Aleke, a state legislator from Ebonyi acknowledged the success stories attributed to the implementation of CCD in Ebonyi and said, “there is need to ensure that the vision of CCD is institutionalized in the South East.” The Abia State Open Government Partnership (OGP) Coordinator, Amaechi Chukwu noted that the state government was implementing the vision of CCD through the traditional age grade system. Mr Okereke Director budget, presented for Imo state, emphasizing that Imo is ready to join other states in implementing CCD.

The purpose, he noted, is served because the community interest is paramount.Mr. Francis Okafor, who represented the Executive Secretary, Enugu State Economic Planning Commission, Mr Dan Onyishi, noted that the state government uniquely adapted the concept, Visit Every Community Initiative (VEC), “where community needs are captured, prioritized and the top needs and implementation ensured, it is captured in the budget.”

The Regional Partnership Facilitator, PERL-ECP, Mr. Sundayson Chidi encouraged all stakeholders to ensure that the CCD approach is institutionalized in their respective states. “The objective is that successive governments will have a framework to hold on to when they assume office. This is not something to be brushed aside by any government because it doesn’t appeal to a governor,” he said.

Other top government officials from the states at the meeting include the
OGP Coordinator, Abia, Amaechi Chukwu; Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Local Government, Ebonyi, Mr. Isaac Chukwu; the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Economic Planning, Anambra, was represented by Mrs. Obioma Okoloji. Also in attendance were media practitioners, secretaries and president generals of town unions.

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