Mon. May 20th, 2024

By Maureen Okpe

DEAN Initiative, a Civil Society Organization (CSO) has called for an open participation in the process governance stressing the need for government to work closely to the people.

Expressing concerns over how far apart Local Government Areas’ (LGA’s) administration are to the people at the grassroots, noting that the system have been operating without public participation.

Executive Director (ED) of the Initiative, Semiye Micheal, stated this Tuesday, during the formal presentation of the Local Government Accountability Award to the Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) by the organization, stressing that government is about the people and there should be nothing to hide about governance in areas of Budgets, Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), contracts and the rest because they are all citizens owned.

Recall that in 2021, Dean Initiative launched the open LGAs accountability award as a study tool to understudy the relevance of
the open governance system in promoting good governance, accountability, and transparency at the local government
level, using the six area councils in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to participate in the award assessment process.

“We used the FCT to launch this initiative because of the full autonomy the six area councils Including Abaji, AMAC, Bwari, Gwagwalada, Kuje and Kwali enjoy. The assessment hinged on fundamental criteria that overall provide the government with the
opportunity to engage, inform and operate a citizen-centred governance structure.

“We used some basic metrics to
assess how governance at the local level has incorporated the citizens in running the affairs which affect the citizens some questions contained in the survey include official website, email address of the area council, official email address of the Executive chairman,
official phone number for the Area council and social media handles.

Others include; oficial contact person for the area council, FOI desk, Budget, IGR in the public domain, number of community engagement and town hall meetings held in 2019, presence of Area council’s chairman on social media handles,” he disclosed.

The ED said the responses from the area councils were extremely
poor as only AMAC has a website and social media account that is active and engaging, the other five area councils have social media accounts, but they are neither
active nor engaging.

“In other words, citizens do not have the opportunity to access
the government through social media or have an idea of what they are doing in terms of activities on their websites.

“While engaging with the six area councils, we offered to provide technical support for those who do not have the listed criteria
to enable them to obtain them, sadly, the Area Councils didn’t take the opportunity. However, AMAC
ranked high across all the assessment indicators and became the winner of the 2021/2022 Open LGA Accountability,” he said.

He explained that the Open Governance Participation (OGP) Local is an international multi-stakeholder initiative that focuses on improving transparency, accountability, citizen participation and responsiveness.

He therefore urged all 774 local governments to accept and sign the OGP local, to enable digital governance, open, transparent and accountable system of governance for local governments in support of democracy and the rule of law.

Receiving the award, AMAC Chairman, Mohammed Candido, assured of advocating for continuity in governance as he had set up a transition committee to enable his successor see what has been achieved and continue smoothly, stressing the importance of engaging public officials to properly manage public funds.

“If we continue to engage public officials we will enable them get it right because they are managing public funds. I will be out of office in 30days and I urge CSO’s to also engage my successor as well as other public officials so that we can get it right as a country,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Country Representatives of Action Aid Ene Obi, said the OGP is laudable and a lesson that should be taken to all the states because local government is the closest government to citizens, stessing the numerous gains in getting local government administration. right

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