Kaduna State: A Call For Increased Participatory Budget Spending
By: Yusuf Ishaku Goje
Globally, participatory budgeting is proving to be the most effective enabler for inclusive and sustainable development. From Porto Alegre in Brazil to Kaduna State in Nigeria, more citizens are now empowered to inform, influence and change budget decisions that affect them.
With the Community Development Charter (CDC) process, Kaduna State is demonstrating that when government and citizens work as partners, the budgets can be an effective process for equitable distribution of the commonwealth and inclusive development.
In 2018, the Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO) funded Partnership to Engage, Reform Learn (PERL-ECP) program supported Kaduna State to harmonize the framework for citizens’ participation in budget formulation as encapsulated in the Community Development Charter (CDC) protocol. The resultant increase in citizens’ engagement with the budget process can equally be attributed to the political will of the previous administration.
This is evident with the enactment of the Local Government Reform Law (Sections 56 and 72), 2018, which mandates Local Government Councils to ensure a culture of participatory budget. Furthermore, it states that annual budget estimates must have citizens’ input as well as a town-hall meeting held before being forwarded for appropriation. This has been further consolidated through the State’s commitment on an open budget in its State Action Plans (SAP 2018-2020; 2021-2023) of the Open Government Partnership (OGP).
To further institutionalize the process, a desk officer has been appointed in the State’s Planning & Budget Commission to facilitate the process. In 2022, the State Executive Council approved the CDC protocol as the official channel for capturing community priority needs into the annual budget. To ensure improved submission and data management, the Council, in 2023, approved the automated CDC submission portal. Importantly, out of the 24 activities captured in the 2024 budget calendar, four are CDC related.
Nonetheless, just like any endeavour in life, there are challenges. Up until now, there are political stakeholders and Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government that have not fully bought into the concept of participatory budgeting. There is increasing engagement fatigue in some communities as a result of the low level of implementation of the CDC nominated projects, with many stakeholders losing faith in the process.
Furthermore, the CDC nominated projects are mostly not prioritized during budget spending due to the absence of a ring-fenced allocation. There is also currently no funding for the CDC process as it is entirely driven by voluntarism making it difficult to cover the entire communities in the State. To address some of the challenges, below are some of our advocacy asks.
In line with global standards for participatory budgeting, a percentage of the annual State and Local Government budgets should be ring-fenced for community nominated projects and interventions. The Planning & Budget Law, 2017, should be amended to provide legal backing for participatory budgeting as captured in the CDC protocol. The legislators in the Kaduna State House of Assembly should adopt the CDC as their constituency projects.
Finally, recognizing that communities have diverse and peculiar needs as well as empowering them to inform and influence budget decisions, will enhance government capacity at reducing poverty, child and maternal mortality, out-of-pocket expenses on health, stunting, out-of-school children, illiteracy etc. This will accelerate the outcome targets captured in the Kaduna State Development Plan (SDP, 2021-2023).
We call on our Governor, Senator Uba Sani, to consider increasing public investment in participatory budgeting in line with his last pillar of Nurturing Citizens Engagement as captured in his SUSTAIN blueprint.
Yusuf Ishaku Goje, an Active Citizen, writes from Kaduna and can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org.