Govt Seeks CSOs Collaboration To Improve Budgeting Process In Ebonyi

Govt Seeks CSOs Collaboration To Improve Budgeting Process In Ebonyi

By Oswald Agwu

Ebonyi State government has sought the partnership of Non-governmental/ Civil Society Organisations to fashion a formidable budget process for the State.

The Principal Secretary to Governor David Umahi, Chief Emmanuel Obasi, gave the indication on Monday while addressing a group of CSOs led by Development and Integrity Intervention Goals, DIG Foundation in his office in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State capital.

The team, led by the Executive Director of DIG, Oliver Chima Aja was in the PS’s office on Advocacy mission towards improved funding for primary healthcare in the State.

DIG is a Sub-grantee of United States Agency for International Develooment- funded Integrated Health Program, USAID-IHP.

Obasi noted that the collaboration was necessary to help birth a government/CSOs joint budget committee that would study past budgets, project and make inputs for the future.

He acknowledged that the State had made some progress in recent times through integrating Citizen’s consultation/input session in its budget process.

Obasi, however, observed that the events as presently organised had not achieved its desired objectives, adding that citizens inputs have not always been corporately articulated, organised and presented in a strategic manner for inclusion in the budget.

He charged the CSOs to take the lead by always articulating their submissions early enough for possible inclusion in the budget.

Obasi explained: “We expect that CSOs should be able to have documented input, so that at the end of the day, these documents can be collated and compiled as submission of the Civil society group.

” Even individuals can bring their own, and all will be packaged, and presented to the budget committee.

“So I expect that if we partner with you properly, by next year, we should be able to have our own budget committee.

” I had set up a committee like that the last time, but unfortunately, they dwelt only on 2020 budget.

“The budget committee can study our past budget and make projections and inputs for our next budget.”John

Obasi, who is also the Coordinator of forum of NGOs, CSOs and Support groups in the State commended the contingents for their maturity and development impacts in the State.

Presenting the group’s mission, Chima Ajah urged the government to scale-up budgetary allocation in relation to improving Primary Health Care facilities in the State.

He called for increased Citizens participation and increased citizens’ nominated project in 2022 Budget.

Ajah further drew the attention of government to the deplorable condition of primary healthcare centres in the State, noting that toilet facilities, power supply, water and sanitation facilities were lacking in most of them.

He also sued for employment of more health workers to combat inadequate human resources for health militating against the services of PHCs in the State, as well as prompt releases of fund meant for the health sector.

Ajah emphasized: “Ebonyi Civil Society Network under the USAID IHP project observed that in 2020 Citizens Accountability Report, only five (5) out of Thirteen (13) LGAs had their input captured and executed.

“Out of the ten (10) projects, Three (3) went to Ohaozara LGA; Ishielu, two (2); Abakaliki two (2); Onicha, One (1) and Ohaukwu, two (2).

“Thus, we humbly request that in 2022 budget, citizens input should be widely spread at least across all the LGAs if not all communities/wards in the State.

“There is urgent need for the construction of toilet facilities in all the Primary Health Care facilities, or at least one in each political ward across the 171 wards in the State.

“According to baseline survey by development partners and CSOs only 40% of the facilities had functional toilets.

“Accelerated PHC electrification across all the Primary Health Care Facilities.

“According to baseline survey by development partners and CSOs, 35% of PHC facilities have no form of power supply and 47% have no alternative source of power supply.

“An increase of the health budget to 15% of the consolidated budget in Ebonyi State as recommended by Abuja Declaration.

“From history, the only year Ebonyi hit the target and above was 2020 due to COVID-19…”

The Executive Director furthermore, asked for concerted effort by the government to reactivate the Open Government Partnership (OGP) initiative in the state.

Other CSO members who spoke, including Reverend Sister Cecilia chukwu of Succour and Development Services Initiative (SUCDEV), Barr Nkem chukwu of Health for the Society, Justice and Peace Initiative and Paul Nwankwo of Humanity Foundation applauded the infrastructural strides of the Governor Umahi.

They called for integration of real NGOs/CSOs into the scheme of things for the benefit of the State, adding that such organisations were not antagonistic but partners with government in developing the State.

Nwankwo particularly called on the PS to create a separate platform for working NGOs/CSOs in the State instead of lumping them together with political support groups.

He observed that such development would help check some shaddy activities bedevilling the forum, thereby encouraging genuine Nongovernmental/Civil Society organisations to join.