The Akwa Ibom State Government, has reiterated its readiness to sustain the values of transparency, accountability and open governance through the involvement of citizens in budgetary process.
The Honourable Commissioner, Ministry of Economic Development, Mr. Emem Bob, stated this Tuesday during the Stakeholders meeting on 2022 Citizens’ Budget held in Uyo.
Mr. Bob applauded Governor Udom Emmanuel for signing up Akwa Ibom State as a member of Open Government Partnership (OGP) of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) and State Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) programme, which was further confirmed in year 2022 through signing into law the State Fiscal Responsibility Law.
The Commissioner who explained that the aim of the meeting was to interact with members of Civil Society Organizations, Traditional Institutions, Civil Liberty Organizations, Youth Groups, People Living with Disabilities as well as Women Groups to gather inputs for the publication of 2022 Citizens’ Budget.
Furthermore, he stated that it was also to satisfy SFTAS requirements which will necessitate the publication of the State’s Citizens’ Budget soon.
He thanked the World Bank for contributing greatly towards transparency, accountability and citizens participation in the state budgetary process. Mr. Emem Bob also commended the citizens for their willingness to partake and contribute to the success of budget planning.
In his remarks, the Honourable Commissioner for Finance, Dr. Linus Nkan, lauded the Ministry of Economic Development, for setting up the Stakeholders Meeting for government officials and citizens to brainstorm on the way forward for good governance.
According to Dr. Nkan, the Citizens’ participation in budgetary process in Akwa Ibom State began in 2019 with record of immense improvements each year. He asserted that with the reform in the budget process, citizens now play pivotal roles in the development process of our state.
” Today from this reform, the citizens are made to take ownership of budgeting process. It therefore mean that government no longer sit in the comfort of their offices to draw up programmes to embark upon for citizens yearly. Rather, they engage citizens who are the owners of the resources in interaction to get their inputs for the programmes based on their priority, importance and need.
With all the inputs obtained from the citizens, the Finance Commissioner disclosed that the State Government will able to put up a realistic budget for each Fiscal Year.
In their goodwill messages, the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Comrade Ini Ememobong represented by the Permanent Secretary, Akparawa James Edet, Accountant General of the State, Pastor Uwem Andrew Essien, Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Multilateral and Donor Agencies, Mr. Nana Udom, Representative of State USAID, Mr. Edward Nnakee, commended the State Government for embracing the open governance policy where citizens are now fully involved in the preparation and implementation process of budget for each Fiscal Year.
The Chairman, Akwa Ibom State Civil Society Organization Forum, Pastor Harry Udoh while speaking on behalf of the group, suggested that more investment should be geared towards Small Scale Business where much revenue will be generated to the State Government account.
He also called on government to prioritize education, while ensuring that its citizens’ enjoy good and affordable health care services by introducing Health Insurance Schemes.
Present at the Stakeholders Meeting were the Permanent Secretaries, Ministry of Economic Development Mr. Effiong Ekpenyong, Ministry of Finance, Mrs. Eme-ette Imuk, Directors in the Ministry of Economic Development and other Stakeholders.