OGP: Citizens’ groups verify open governance commitment areas for Kaduna State
By: Femi Mustapha
Some citizens’ groups on Tuesday verified the commitment areas they nominated to inform the third State Action Plan (SAP) for its Open Government Partnership (OGP).
The verification meeting, held in Kaduna, was supported by Partnership to Engage, Reform and Learn (PERL), a governance programme of the United Kingdom Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).
The OGP is a multilateral initiative that aims to secure concrete commitments from governments to promote open governance, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance.
The Kaduna State Government joined the OGP in 2018 and developed its first Action Plan from 2018 to 2020, while the second Action Plan from 2021 to 2023 elapsed in March.
The first action plan focused on open budget, citizen engagement, access to information, open contracting, and ease of doing business.
The second action plan focused on open budget, open contracting, citizen engagement, strengthening social protection systems, and improving service delivery in health and education sectors.
To ensure the sustainability of open governance in the state, citizens’ groups in March met and nominated some commitment areas to inform the third State Action Plan of the OGP.
Mr. Philip Yatai, Citizens Co-chair, OGP Technical Working Group (TWG) on Strengthening Social Protection systems, said that the objective of the meeting was to review and validate the nominated commitments.
Yatai added that the meeting was also to set an agenda and develop a strategy for the civil society members of the third State Action Plan drafting committee.
The OGP Citizens Co-chair in the state, Hajiya Hadiza Umar, described the verification as critical to getting the buy-in of the new administration taking off on May 29.
Umar explained that the meeting provides citizens in the state an opportunity to nominate commitment areas that resonate with the public to inform the third state action plan.
She noted that the co-creation principle of the OGP between the government and citizens had strengthened citizens’ participation in governance, thereby strengthening transparency and accountability.
“This is a critical moment for us as citizens to continue to have a space at the discussion table for inclusive and people-oriented governance.
“Let us make the best use of the opportunity by ensuring that whatever commitments we are verifying are critical, deliverable, and will get the buy-in of the incoming government,” she said.
On his part, PERL State Lead Facilitator, Mr. Abel Adejor, stressed the need for citizens to consolidate on the gains so far recorded from SAP I and SAP II.
Adejor commended the accountability mechanisms groups who have been engaging the government processes in the state and giving citizens a voice at the discussion table.
He said that PERL had been supporting open governance in the state and would continue with its efforts at bringing citizens and government to the discussion table and removing bottlenecks around governance.
According to him, the goal is to ensure citizens’ access to quality services, which in the long run will improve the quality of life and general well-being.
He said that in the next one year, PERL would be supporting the state government and citizens to consolidate on the gains of OGP recorded so far in the state.
He identified the key priority areas of support as budget engagement, transition management, legislative engagement, audit, local governance, OGP, and mutual accountability framework.
Mr. Tara Jeremiah, the OGP Point of Contact, Planning and Budget Commission, commended the citizens’ group for working with the government as partners to improve the quality of governance.
Jeremiah added that verifying the commitment areas was crucial to getting the buy-in of the government for implementation.
He assured citizens of the government commitment to involve citizens in the planning and implementation of programmes and projects.