CLEAP harps on enhancing collaboration between legislatures and CSOs.
By: Femi Mustapha
To strengthen the advocacy for better legislation that will improve the lives of Kaduna residents, the Civil Society-Legislature Engagement & Accountability Platform (CLEAP) has emphasized enhancing collaboration between legislatures and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs).
These were the views of participants at the two-day Technical Session on Strengthening Citizens’ Participation in the Audit Process with the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Office of the Auditor-General of State, and Local Governments in collaboration with the Civil Society-Legislature Engagement & Accountability Platform (CLEAP).
Mr. Yusuf Goje of CLEAP said that improving the understanding of key steps of the legislatures will enhance the credibility and role of CSOs as drivers of change for sustainable development in Kaduna State.
It is observed that lawmakers from Kaduna State House of Assembly, senior civil servants from the Planning and Budget Commission, the Auditor General’s Office, Fiscal Policy Commission, and civil society groups participated in the session facilitated by Partnership to Engage, Reform and Learn (PERL), a UK-supported governance program.
Mr. Goje reminds the lawmakers that citizens, who are the constituents, voted on their behalf to make laws, oversee, and evaluate the activities of the executive.
According to him, legislators represent the diversity, interests, aspirations, and voices of citizens and are mandated to consult and be accountable to the citizens on their legislative activities in a constituency via town-hall meetings or any other forum, collaborating to hold the executive accountable.
Speaking on CLEAP, he explained that a platform was established between civil society and the legislature for sustainable engagement and social accountability towards improving the quality of service delivery and living standards of the residents of Kaduna State.
He stressed that the establishment of CLEAP is a child of necessity to build and strengthen the linkage between horizontal and diagonal actors to champion social accountability toward improved quality of service delivery and living standards for residents in the state.
“The platform seeks to bring together legislators, assembly staff, civil society, media, and development partners through a permanent dialogue platform to build a community of practice that leverages the legislative mandate and process to engage the executive with a focus on social accountability in the areas of the development plan, sector implementation plan, policies, reforms, budgets, procurement service delivery, and monitoring, evaluation, and audit processes.”
In his remarks, a former member of Kaduna State House of Assembly, Hon. Tanko Samuel Ubankato, tasked the lawmakers to be more concerned about the Office of the Auditor General of the State and the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
Ubankato, who was the former Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee of the House, said auditors in government can play a key part in promoting honesty.
“There are inherent risks in government where you often have less oversight and where you have officials or individuals who have motives to benefit from positions of authority,” he opined.
He also expressed that the Office of the Auditor General has been increasingly important because it has lots of important mandates and budgets. However, he believes that the auditing processes need to be established through legislation and require people with the power and integrity to enforce them.
“There must be strong legislative and regulatory bodies and managers, bureaucrats, and public servants who set the right ethical tone and are prepared to hold people to account, reducing opportunities for graft,” according to Chambers.
“Fighting corruption also rests on detecting wrongdoing, but in many situations, people who speak out are at risk. Auditors, too, are often on the front line, being vulnerable both to influence and as potential whistleblowers.
‘Internal auditors, particularly in government, often have the most difficult job of all the people. They may not be well compensated, and in many cases, they face extraordinary pressures and risks to themselves,’ he stressed.